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In the wake of last year’s ethereal film from FKA Twigs celebrating the art of play, the International Woolmark Prize’ has a phenomenal pair of strappy ballet flats to fill. But with the announcement of this year’s iconic collaborator, it seems it’s found its Cinderella. For 2023, pioneering performance artist Joan Jonas, 86, steps up to centre stage alongside American actress and dancer Taylour Paige, 32, and lauded British rapper Loyle Carner, 28, for a serene short film celebrating the the IWP2023 finalists’ collections and the theme of ‘dialogue’ as the key that unlocks the creative process.

Creativity is shaped through dialogue; it’s what we use to envision a future fortified by sustainable practices and innovation. The Woolmark Company’s objective is to weave and intergenerational dialogue between this year’s prize finalists – the next generation of leading design talent – and of course Jonas herself; allowing for mutual dialogue, connections and learnings to be shared.

If you’re not already familiar with the enigma that is Joan Jonas, get to know her. Considered to be one of the most continuously influential global figures of the past half century, she was one of the first fine artists to combine disparate mediums of video, performance, installation, sound, text and sculpture, to explore ways of seeing, the rhythms of rituals and the authority of objects and gestures. Her late ‘60s/early ‘70s art experiments continue to be crucial to the development of many contemporary art genres and she’s set to be the subject of a major retrospective at MoMA in 2024 – a first-rate triumph, for a paragon of the art world.

Dubbed Dialogue, the film is a contemporary re-staging of one of Jonas’ most iconic performances, Delay Delay (1972), now reimagined with creative direction by Zak Kyes of Zak Group, alongside dream-team director-duo Partel Olivia and incredible choreographer Josh Johnson. “Dialogue is a letter to, and for, the next generation,” says Kyes.

Set to Loraine James’ original score, the cast wanders along the coast of Marseille with emblematic props – outstretched batons and a cyr wheel – creating unexpected rhythms of space and scale. Writer Naomi Shimada, muse Sonia Ichti, ballet dancer Samuel Pereira and Marseille-based creatives Valentine Valero, Hanna-May Porlon and Luka Isaac make special appearances, climbing, dancing and meandering around the rocky alabaster landscape, with Mistral winds whirling through their sun-swept hair and billowing garments.

Delay Delay was [originally] performed outdoors in the Lower West Side of Manhattan in empty lots. Those places don’t exist anymore in New York, in that way,” says Jonas. “The fact that Woolmark found a site near Marseille in France to restage parts of it, and that the work would be transformed by younger people – I find very interesting.” Within, the IWP collection looks from this year’s finalists including Irish menswear maven Robyn Lynch, Rhuigi Villaseñor’s LA label Rhude, Paris-based Bluemarble, Nigeria’s Lagos Space Programme, UK-based Paolina Russo, Maxxij of South Korea, A. Roege Hove of Denmark and Italy’s Marco Rambaldi, are exhibited, swirling sublimely on the ensemble cast of characters.

Each of the designers has already been awarded AU$60,000 (£31,730) to create their collection, and was supported along the way by the program’s mentoring initiative which included support from the likes of Farfetch’s chief brand officer Holli Rogers, Vogue’s global fashion editor-at-large Gabriella Karefa-Johnson and Tim Blanks, editor-at-large of Business of Fashion. Then, assessed by a panel of prestigious industry experts, one deserving finalist will be awarded the International Woolmark Prize during an immersive live event in Paris on May 15, receiving a whopping AU$200,000 (£105,921) to invest in the development of their business. The winner will follow in the formidable footsteps of former recipients from Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent to Giorgio Armani, Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren, to Richard Malone, Edward Crutchley, Matty Bovan and most recently, Saul Nash.

What’s more, the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation will once again be presented, with another winner receiving AU$100,000 (£55,491). Plus, for the third year running, The Woolmark Supply Chain Award will be presented, celebrating an outstanding contribution from a trade partner to drive awareness for wool supply chain innovation. All finalists will have the opportunity to be stocked in some of the world’s leading stores, via the IWP Retailer Network.

Photography courtesy of The Woolmark Company.