Luis Aponte, a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design program at Miami International University of Art & Design, put his own fur-free spin on a Derek Lam garment to win the grand prize in the ninth annual Cool vs. Cruel Fashion Design Competition.
Aponte earned a cash prize of $1,000, and was also awarded an expense-paid, week-long internship in New York City with celebrated fur-free designer and competition judge Victoria Bartlett.
The competition, sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States and The Art Institutes, challenges fashion students at The Art Institutes system of schools throughout North America to creatively reinterpret and replace animal fur on runway designs by Diane von Furstenberg, Tom Ford, Derek Lam, or Moncler.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with The Art Institutes for the ninth year of the Cool vs. Cruel fashion design competition. This competition gives us the opportunity to reach hundreds of students each year and educate them about problems in the fur trade, including mislabeling, environmental impacts and welfare concerns for the millions of animals killed every year for their fur,” said Michelle McDonald, fashion outreach manager of the Fur-Free Campaign for The HSUS.
This year’s competition featured an additional challenge — students were not permitted to use faux fur in their designs, which encouraged innovation and non-traditional material choices. Competition winner Aponte recreated the look of animal fur by using foam peanuts. He painted them, grouped them together, then sewed them into the garment to create a unique looking fur substitute.
“The Cool vs. Cruel Competition showcases our students’ design talents and provides an important lesson to our students about thinking outside the box when creating designs,” said John Pufahl, vice president of academic affairs, The Art Institutes. “We are excited to continue our partnership with The Humane Society of the United States to make fur-free design more mainstream.”
Second place winner Jesus Romero, a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design program at The Art Institute of California — San Francisco, a campus of Argosy University, earned $750 for his fur-free redesign. Third place winner Josue Beltran, a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design program at The Art Institute of California — Hollywood, a campus of Argosy University, was awarded $500.
The judges’ panel consisted of professionals from the fashion industry, including designers Carmen Artigas; John Bartlett; Victoria Bartlett; Leanne Hilgart; Kimberly Ovitz; PAPER magazine editor Mickey Boardman; designer and founder of OlsenHaus, Elizabeth Olsen; founder and president of Donna Salyers’ Fabulous Furs, Donna Salyers; writer and editor Nell Alk; and designer and founder of Brave GentleMan, Joshua Katcher.
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