America’s Wool Hopes Rest on Designer Tom Scott

In Tom Scott’s showroom with pieces from his fall 2008 collection Photo: Melissa Hom

On Thursday, July 3, Sonia Rykiel will host the Woolmark Prize award ceremony in Paris. The contest is a relaunch of the Wool Secretariat Award (in 1954 Yves Saint Laurent won the dress category and Karl Lagerfeld the coat category), which was reportedly shuttered in 1992. This year, there are ten finalists, including one American, Tom Scott. “Wool was a big part of my fall collection, organic wool; I love lamb’s wool. And it’s not just for fall. That’s why men in the desert wear wool caftans — it naturally takes the moisture off your skin.” The West Village–based designer found out via e-mail that he was nominated for the award back in January after a long day of fittings for his fall show. Since then, he’s collaborated with the Woolmark Prize award reps to create three knit outfits to be judged. One is a long coat with hanging thread detail and a big funnel-neck collar; the second, a long dress made in a heavy yarn with a sheer skirt beneath; and finally, a skirt-cardigan combination, “sort of a secretary look,” Scott explains. Of the other finalists, Scott's main competition is Brit Louise Goldin. “She makes very beautiful clothes. And it’s interesting to think about the way they selected [the finalists] because my work is so different from hers.” Maybe it’s just the building Olympic spirit, but we’re rooting for the Yankee.

Win or lose come Thursday, Scott will definitely be showing a spring collection in September. And he let us in on some hints. “I’m thinking about the idea of a uniform more and more for spring. Lots of jumpers. Also I’m working with five or six new colors, not just my more traditional muted ones. I also just got back from a week in China — that may have an influence.” Is the next great American designer right in front of us? We're guessing so. —Kendall Herbst