Get to know Ashlynn Park and Ryunosuke Okazaki, who have both been named finalists for fashion’s most prestigious award
Winning the LVMH Prize is one of the most enviable badges of honour that an emerging fashion designer can wear.
The prestigious prize is offered by French luxury conglomerate LVMH—which owns big brands like Dior, Fendi, and of course, Louis Vuitton—and has helped launch the careers of some of the fashion industry's most exciting names today. That includes Grace Wales Bonner, Simon Porte Jacquemus, Marine Serre and, as of last year, Nensi Dojaka. In 2022, an Asian designer may be added to that list.
That possibility is posed by the list of finalists that been revealed for this year’s LVMH Prize. It comprises eight fashion labels from around the world: Ashlyn from South Korea, ERL from the US, Knwls from the UK, Róisín Pierce from Ireland, Ryunosukeokazaki from Japan, S.S. Daley from the UK, Tokyo James from Nigeria, and Winnie from the US.
Given the dominance of European and American designers in the fashion industry, it’s noteworthy when designers of Asian descent edge out the competition on an international platform like the LVMH Prize. And that’s why we’re spotlighting the two who have been shortlisted this year: Ryunosuke Okazaki and Ashlynn Park. Read on to know why the designers should be on your radar.
Based in: New York, US
Shortly after graduating with a Master’s degree in fashion design from Bunka Fashion College, Ashlynn Park was hired to work with the Japanese school’s most esteemed alumnus: Yohji Yamamoto.
There, the Seoul-born creative was again trained in sewing and pattern-making to meet Yamamoto’s rigorous standards, before rising through the ranks to become a fashion designer at the revered fashion house. Although Park would later move to New York and work for the likes of Khaite and Raf Simons’ Calvin Klein, it’s clear that her experience at Yohji Yamamoto has shaped her the most.
Park’s designs are perfect for the red carpet; they encompass timeless, tailored silhouettes and elegant gowns with romantic details rooted in the past (think bustled skirts and puffed sleeves). Her technical prowess was evident from her debut collection, Hibernation, unveiled in 2021; Park tailored, fitted and hand-stitched every piece by herself.
Park’s commitment to quality also means that she pays attention to her use of materials, another thing she picked up from working under Yohji Yamamoto. After making a documentary on pollution from the fashion industry, she launched a zero-waste capsule collection and an upcycled accessory line. Her designs are also made from responsibly-sourced and natural materials, and offered on a pre-order basis.
Based in: Tokyo, Japan
Although he was initially trained in graphic design at the Tokyo University of the Arts, Okazaki eventually ventured into the more tactile world of fashion.
In fact, his Tokyo Fashion Week debut in 2021 demonstrated his ability to realise impressive, three-dimensional forms. On the runway, Okazaki sent models down in sculptural knit dresses with swirling forms and ruffles that made their wearers look like they were engulfed in petals, vines or corals.
Unsurprisingly, the Hiroshima native does not sketch out his designs, but instead follows a creative process that he compares to prayer. “I don’t imagine the completion of the work, but just pray for it,” said the 27-year-old. “And sometimes I find a form that I never imagined. I just keep moving my hands. The moment I exceed my imagination, I am very happy.”
Having only just graduated from college, Okazaki already stands out with a distinctive vision and technical mastery that can be compared to more established, avant-garde designers like Iris Van Herpen and Craig Green.