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For Immediate Release: 09/13/11

Winners of 3rd Annual Fur Free Fashion (fffashion) Competition Announced by Born Free USA and Celebrity Judges

Emerging Design Stars from Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina and China Selected

Born Free USA’s third annual fffashion competition attracted emerging designers from around the globe who believe in the benefits of shunning fur, protecting animals and the environment, and embracing the green fashion movement. Winners of the competition were announced Aug. 8 by Born Free USA’s chief executive officer, Will Travers, after celebrity judging panelists made their final decision.

Travers said, “We created this competition to celebrate emerging fashion designers who believe in the welfare of animals and refuse to use fur in their work. In its third year, fffashion has attracted talented, savvy stylists with a clear eye for beauty. While Born Free’s work to stop the killing of animals for their fur is extremely serious, our campaign to celebrate humane designers through fffashion is a lighter way to bring attention to a horrific industry. This year proves one thing: compassion is in fashion.”

This year’s judges for the competition were: two-time Emmy Award winning actress and animal supporter Julia Barr (“All My Children”), international design and couture legend Elizabeth Emanuel (perhaps best-known for creating Princess Diana’s wedding gown), Rachelle Carson-Begley (“Living with Ed” on Discovery's Planet Green), Kristin Bauer (Pam on HBO's “True Blood”), Brita Belli (editor of E/The Environmental Magazine) and Summer Rayne Oakes (eco-model, activist and green living expert).

“Compassion for animals is part of the planet’s social and environmental equation,” Travers said. “Fashion designers, retailers and consumers need to realize that fur garments have should not be welcomed anywhere. Fur in not fashionable, not cool, and not to be tolerated.”

A call for designers went out in January 2011 asking emerging design stars to create a woman’s or man’s coat, shirt, pants, dress, skirt or suit and submit their entry by April 15 to Born Free USA. Prizes include cash, coverage in E Magazine, and featured attention on Born Free USA’s website. More at www.bornfreeusa.org/fffashion.

Winners

First Place: Greensboro, NC-based designer Stephanie Teague won for her mustard mini dress made from fine hemp linen and organic cotton gauze dyed with eco-friendly, low impact dyes. “I want my clothing to represent my ethos and my lifestyle,” she said in her entry. “I strive to take care and do the best I can for myself and my environment every day. Taking care of our planet and all living things is our responsibility. I am so happy to live in a time that you can see change and be a part of it.”

Second Place: China native Yan Fong, who spends her time among Hong Kong, Manhattan and Paris, was chosen for her red body-hugging, easy care, feminine knit jersey dress she calls “stop bloody fur.” “I love animals and our earth,” she said, “and want to spread the anti-fur message everyday — to stop the bloody fur industry and spread the word that fur is not luxury. My hope is that no fur farm will exist anymore.”

Third Place: Lexington, KY, resident Soreyda Benedit Begley, born in Puente Alto, Cortes-Honduras, is the director of Lexington Fashion Collaborative, and received third place for her floral printed silk, mermaid silhouette ball gown with puffy sleeves and a sweetheart neckline. “With so many other options of materials to work with,” she said, “the brutality directed at animals for their fur has absolutely no justification.”

The Green Award (for the most environmentally friendly design) and Student Award: Ashley Cook of Crystal Lake, IL, now based in McHenry, IL, studies at the International Academy of Design and Technology in Schaumburg, IL. She received both the Green Award and the Student Award for her 100 percent cotton jacket that incorporates soft canvas against the body’s curves while highlighting nature with detailed knit flowers along the collar. The collar and sleeves are recycled from a thrift store sweater and the flowers constructed with a mix of scrap yarns. “Constructing garments ethically is important in my designs while utilizing natural materials and sources that are harmless to the lives occupying this earth — reconstruct and recycle,” she said. “Without the beauty of life and nature surrounding us, we would be neither inspired nor capable of making such fashions. Let us safely drape the world!”

Born Free USA (BFUSA) is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, BFUSA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and destructive international wildlife trade. BFUSA’s Primate Sanctuary in Texas is home to more than 500 primates rescued from laboratories, roadside zoos and private possession. BFUSA brings to America the message of “compassionate conservation,” the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will, now CEO of both organizations. BFUSA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.

More at www.bornfreeusa.org; on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

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