Melbourne-based design duo Strateas.Carlucci has been announced as the winner of both the womenswear and menswear categories at the 2014/2015 Australian regional Woolmark Prize. Peter Strateas and Mario-Luca Carlucci will now go on to represent Australia at the international final for menswear in London in January, and womenswear in Beijing in March.

The historic Woolmark Prize captures some of the most outstanding, creative and innovative young designers from all over the world each year. They must produce new pieces that feature Merino wool. Launched in 1953, the prize was once awarded to Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, well before both designers reached luminary fashion status.

In Sydney to act as guest judge on this year’s panel, French designer Roland Mouret described the double-win decision as controversial – but believes his role is to seek out more than mere creative genius. “We chose the winner not just based on creativity,” he says. “It’s really important for me, I think, to see that people have the tools to at least pretend to be here in five years time. It’s not just about being business savvy, it’s about surviving.”

The Strateas.Carlucci pieces were inspired by patterns in indigenous artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s works, using neutral black, grey and white. The tailoring of each piece was unflawed but still interesting – long jacquard coats made from resin-coated Merino, as well as blouses in fine woollen fibres. Strateas.Carlucci took out both prizes ahead of other up-and-coming locals such as Karla Spetic, Tristan Melle, Michael Lo Sordo and Song for the Mute.

“They are already amazing tailors, the craft is there,” says Mouret. “They have an identity that can grow. The elocution and ego was right. They are eager to absorb information and to learn. And the magic … the magic was there.”

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