The ANDAM award (National Association for the Development of the Fashion Arts), previously bestowed upon talents Koché, Glenn Martens of Y/PROJECT and Marine Serre, has announced their winner for this year's award - London-based menswear designer Bianca Saunders. The stakes were high this year as other finalists included Wales Bonner, Bianca Saunders, Ludovic de Saint Sernin, Rokh, GmbH and the New York label Area. Jury and guest members included Linda Loppa, Pyer Moss' Kerby Jean-Raymond and Pierre M'Péle, all who decided Bianca Saunders should rightfully take home the prize - an impressive endowment of €300,000 along with one year of mentoring from Cédric Charbit, chief executive officer of Balenciaga.
While drawing on her British and West Indian background, Saunders has gained a reputation for questioning the notions and tropes of masculinity within her designs, aiming to break down social constructs that make up the elusive world of menswear. The Bianca Saunders man is a distinct one. Saunders once told ex-contributing editor of SHOWstudio Mimma Viglezio she considers him to be a 'creative polymath, quietly confident in his identity'. Saunders' ideas are refined, keeping her designs simple but intelligent; there's an air of femininity to her designs that may lead some to compare her style to a finely-tuned contemporary dandy. Others think she's just mastered the future of menswear design - effortlessly elegant.
The ANDAM fashion awards are based in Paris, and were launched in 1989 by Nathalie Dufour as a joint venture between the French Ministry of Culture and the Defi Mode fashion organisation, with the objective to offer financial support and mentorship to young fashion designers. Since being founded, the annual awards ceremony has been recognised as a benchmark for designers, fashion professionals, and members of the fashion press, acting as a pathway for young designers hoping to enter the Paris Fashion Week schedule - Martin Margiela was the first official recipient of the award after he graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp.
In 2018, the value of the global awards reached a total of €430 000 split between four prizes: the Grand Prix, the Creative Brand Prize, the Accessories Prize, and the Innovation Prize. The bets for who would take home the award this year were thin but Saunders is a good fit - also a nominee for the 2021 LVMH prize, which went to ANDAM finalist Wales Grace Bonner five years ago in 2016.