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The mythology of the fashion prize is part of the industry’s folklore. So it goes that an obscure young designer working away with impecunious inventiveness is discovered by a fabulous fairy godmother and given a fast-track ticket to international acclaim. Off they go, happily ever after. The end.

In reality, it’s less of a fairy tale and more of a cautionary tale. For, as every young designer knows, the challenges of establishing an independent label can make it almost impossible to do, even with financial support, chattering buzz and thousands of Instagram likes. One could even argue that the spotlight is a deterrent to real sustainable growth and brand building. For every success story, there is a defunct label that once showed early promise.

The LVMH Prize is the brainchild of Louis Vuitton executive vice president Delphine Arnault. It’s open to designers under the age of 40 who have produced at least two collections. The winner receives €300,000, plus a year of mentorship from LVMH and its network. It also offers a runner-up Special Prize of €150,000 and similar mentorship opportunities. Thanks to the prominence of its sponsor and the eminence of its jury — a pantheon of the conglomerate’s star designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Nicolas Ghesquière and Marc Jacobs — the Prize has quickly established itself as one of the most prestigious and valuable contests in the world for young fashion designers. This year, more than 1,300 designers representing 90 nationalities applied.

Of its winners, many have gone on to become the most exciting names on fashion week schedules — Marques Almeida, Wales Bonner, Marine Serre, Jacquemus, to name just a few — and even others who haven’t won have gone far. Virgil Abloh, for instance, was merely a finalist in 2015 — three years later, he’s the new artistic director of menswear for Louis Vuitton.