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Last Hurdle Before Paris: Best in the U.S. Ready
to Win, Wearing Their Hearts on Their Sleeves

Date: Oct. 11, 2002
Story by: Mary Bridget Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Archive: General News
Photo by: Lisa Ventre
sketches provided by UC fashion students

Cincinnati -- Paris comes to Cincinnati as the nation's premium crop of up-and-coming designers mix with an international array of professional designers during the October 31 United States' finals of the prestigious International Competition of Young Fashion Designers.

Akarasun Senglai's dress design

Held at the University of Cincinnati, it's no "sew-sew" event for the more than 40 young designers competing from 18 schools, with UC being represented by six students.

After all, they'll exhibit their "wears" to be judged by prominent professionals, and one finalist will win a graduate scholarship for study in Paris at the Institut Francais de la Mode (IFM). (The winning student will still have to pass IFM's interview process to be accepted.) And only those judged the best in the runway event will travel to Paris in December to compete against their peers from Europe and Asia. In France, the students' designs will be shown by the best of Paris' models at the Louvre.

"This is the most prestigious undergraduate competition in the U.S. and internationally," explained the competition's organizer Nathalie Doucet, UC assistant professor of fashion design and president of the Arts of Fashion Foundation, sponsor of the U.S. finals. This year's event, themed "Love and Fashion," marks the 20th anniversary of the international competition, which is sponsored by Air France; the French Federation of Haute Couture, Ready-to-Wear and Designers; and the city hall of Paris.

Liz Swartzel's design

"This is good for the students because it increases their level of professionalism. They hone their speed, quality and creative skills. They meet students from other schools and professionals. They get to know their future competition and colleagues," said Margie Voelker-Ferrier, coordinator of UC's fashion design program. "It's also good for the city and country. Europe and New York are coming into Cincinnati. They'll see our passion for fashion."

U.S. schools represented at the event will be:

University of CincinnatiArt Institute of Chicago
California State Northridge UniversityColumbia College, Chicago
Cornell University, New YorkDrexel University, Philadelphia
Houston Community CollegeInternational Fine Arts College, Florida
Iowa State UniversityKent State University, Ohio
Marist College, New YorkMarymount University, Virginia
Nassau Community College, New YorkNorfolk State University, Virginia
Oklahoma State UniversityParsons School of Design
University of AlabamaUniversity of Delaware

Maren Hartman's design

The Oct. 31 runway run-off is set for 10 a.m.-noon in the auditorium (Room 4400) of UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP). Click here for the day's agenda.

Serving as honorary president of the jury of professional judges will be Didier Grumbach, president of the French Federation of Haute Couture, Ready-to-Wear, and Designers. He is also author of "Histoiries de la Mode;" former president of Yves Saint Laurent US; and former dean of studies at Paris' Institut Francais de la Mode (IFM).

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