By my watch it was 2:49 pm at the Louis Vuitton Fondation in Paris when Cate Blanchett delivered the news: “I know I speak for everyone in wishing the winner a long and fulfilling career. So, the 2022 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designer goes to… SS Daley!” The audience whooped as Steven Stokey Daley, 25, stepped up onto the stage in his voluminous khaki collection trench coat to accept the fancy golden award. As with everything else over the last 48 hours spent here prepping for this moment—sleep-time excepted—Daley delivered his speech with aplomb. “This is like an Oscar, so thanks Cate! I genuinely didn’t expect to win, so thanks to everyone who supported me.” In a brief speech (as brief as the then-unknown winner had been asked to deliver during rehearsals the day before) he name-checked Vogue’s Sarah Mower and Harry Lambert, then added, raising a second laugh: “and my boyfriend, who didn’t have a choice.”
Only 90 minutes later that crowd had all but evaporated. Certainly the year’s roster of LVMH Prize judges, including artistic directors Nigo (Kenzo), Silvia Venturini Fendi, Kim Jones (Dior Men and Fendi), Nicolas Ghesquière (Louis Vuitton), Jonathan Anderson (Loewe), Maria Grazia Chiuri (Christian Dior) , and Stella McCartney CBE (as of today) were scattered to the winds. The only evidence of 2:49 pm’s critical mass were A few lurkers and laptop-hunched reporters. Backstage, in the small area where he and his fellow seven LVMH Prize finalists had spent the last two days in close and intense creative proximity—a proximity that you would think would breed competition but turned out not to—Stokey Daley at last finished his final victory interview on Zoom. Alongside Leo Meredith, that beaming boyfriend without a choice, Daley said: “I think this whole experience is just very surreal. And it’s only just starting to sink in now, actually. The last few hours have been a bit of a blur, but overall? This has been life-changing.”
The truth is that every one of today’s finalists would have made a worthy winner of the 9th edition of the LVMH Prize, which as well as that fancy award comes with €300,000 ($322,000) in cash and the priceless bonus of a year’s worth of mentoring from LVMH. ERL’s Eli Russell Linnetz and Winnie New York’s Idris Balogun, who together shared this year’s Karl Lagerfeld Award (and each took away €150,000), were clearly candidates. Speaking before the award was given judge Maria Grazia Chiuri name-checked the Londoner Idiwe Tokyo James as someone who had impressed her, while fellow judge Sidney Toledano, the Chairman and CEO of LVMH Fashion Group, cited Hiroshima-born Ryunosuke Okazaki of Ryunosukeokazaki as another strong prospect. He added: “With each of the candidates frankly it was worth talking with them, even pretty small companies, just to know how the baby still in the egg, just out of the egg is feeling… because for us it gives signals.” Dubliner Róisín Pierce, New Jersey-dwelling Ashlyn, and the Londoners KNWLS—whose Alexandre Arsenault said he and co-founder Charlotte Knowles were kicking themselves for rushing their jury presentation out of nerves—were all highly accomplished too.