Women's Apparel: Gary Graham
Graham attended the Art Institute of Chicago and worked with Broadway costume designers before entering the world of fashion design. He now has a store in Tribeca that, according to him, is meant to evoke the backstage area of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. All the world's a stage for the woman who wears Gary Graham: his collections clearly evoke certain eras of costume history while taying completely on trend. It's no small feat to balance costume and fashion, and I think Graham has succeeded. His use of darks and lights, as well as his innovative finishing processes, make his clothes look used and new at the same time. His work creates a haunting bridge between the past and present while questioning the nature of fashion in the process.
Men's Design: Patrik Ervell
Patrik Ervell never planned on becoming a fashion designer: he studied the economy of industrialized societies at UC Berkeley. He moved to New York and made some T-shirts for Opening Ceremony--the rest is history. Ervell is known for designing beautifully fitting suits and utilizing fabric in strange new ways. For his Spring 2010 show, he explored the theme of Americana: he took that most American fabric cotton and invented a way to get metal to rust on fabric.
Accessories Design: House of Waris
You may have seen Waris Ahluwalia in some Wes Anderson films, but he's really a jewelry designer. Ahluwalia is known for his unique designs: beautiful, handcrafted, one-of-a-kind. Ahluwalia used to have his jewelry made in New York but now produces all of his jewelry in Jaipur, India, to protect and encourage Old World craft techniques. Unfortunately, his website doesn't have any images of his jewelry, but here's a close-up of one of his famous bird pendants:
House of Waris/WWD.com
As for the winner, I think it will be Sophie Theallet. Her work is more traditional than the other nominees', but, like them, her focus is on preserving and adapting traditional crafts for a new era. Her designs are beautiful, her color sense spot-on, her construction impeccable. If she wins this award, it will be well-deserved.