While Pitti Uomo revolves around men’s fashion, one woman managed to come out as a big winner at the event. Meet designer Ruchika Sachdeva from India and her brand Bodice, which won the 2017/18 International Woolmark Prize in the Womenswear category.
Initiated by the Australia-based Woolmark, the annual competition sees emerging designers from around the world developing their collections using Merino wool. Every year, finalists are picked from six different regions, and Sachdeva has previously beaten other designers in the India, Pakistan and Middle East regional final before finally competing and winning at the global level.
Designer and member of the judging panel Phillip Lim says it best when he describes Bodice to be “completely thoughtful.” While the clothes have classic designs, the process behind creating them is not as simple. Sachdeva is known for contrasting modern tailoring with India’s indigenous textiles, woven by local artisans with traditional handlooms and, as a nod to the ancient practices of Ayurveda, natural dye. She also uses renewable sources such as coconut shells, seashells and wood for buttons.
For the collection she created for the International Woolmark Prize, Sachdeva worked together with Bio-Dye in Sawantwadi, Central India, while hand weavers from five different parts of India developed and finished the wool fiber and the fabric. The design itself is inspired by the costumes of 18th century dancers in the Indian royal court, known as the Nautch girls. “I was inspired by how beautifully and freely they moved, the comfort of it. It resonated with the Bodice philosophy,” she explains in an interview.
In collaboration with hand weavers, @bodicebodice pushed the boundaries of her home country’s textile traditions, and also used natural dyes and recycled materials for finished. Bodice represented India and the Middle East for womenswear in the International #WoolmarkPrize final 2017/18. Photography @morgan_odonovan.
For winning the International Woolmark Prize, Bodice received AU$200,000 to help support the development of their business as well as a chance to be stocked in some of the most prestigious department stores and boutiques.