The results of the prestigious competition, which rewards young designers' innovative use of wool textiles, were announced in Beijing this week. The American designer takes home $100,000 AUD ($76,500), and will have the opportunity to be stocked at top luxury retailers like Harvey Nichols in Britain, Saks Fifth Avenue in the US, and Joyce in Hong Kong.
Patmos was selected by an international panel of industry insiders, including Victoria Beckham, Vogue China editor Angelica Cheung, and Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani.
"Marcia did quite an easy concept: It was the woman of today," says Sozzani. "Very cool and simple, but very well-made ... It's perfect for daily wear."
Patmos is known for using simple palettes and easy silhouettes. She developed her competing collection around a fictional globetrotting architect who loses her suitcase during a multi-city trip abroad.
"Once she gets her suitcase back, it all mixes and matches. It works in Detroit and in Morocco," says Patmos, who won the 2012 CFDA/Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge, and 2011 Ecco Domani Fashion Fund Award.
Her team developed special wrinkle-resistant wovens and knits, as well as sun protective fabrics for the competition.
"It involved more research that you normally do in a collection. It was really a lot of fun."
History of excellence
The Woolmark Prize was founded in 1953 to promote the Australian wool industry. Its most notable winners include Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, both of whom won accolades in 1954. (That year, the selection panel included Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Balmain.)
This year's invitation-only competition had five regional finalists representing Europe, the USA, India and the Middle East, Australia, and Asia. These designers were specially selected by their region's ruling fashion bodies, like the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and an international panel decided the winner to erase bias.
"It's scouting from all around the world. It's not just a few people (choosing)," Sozanni says. "It's very reliable."
Along with press exposure and showroom meetings with top retailers like Patmos, she will also be put in touch with distribution and manufacturing contacts to help her grow her brand.
"The next step is the hard part: how to make the evolution of the brand," says Sozzani. "To be competitive, it's not just about the prize. It's about the about the concept ... You need something so strong that people can't ignore."
Patmos hopes that taking home the prize will give her the opportunity to expand internationally, since she already has a number of stockists in the US.
"There are a lot of stores in Europe, Asia and Australia that I'd like to work with," she says. "I think it's a big opportunity."