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For Immediate Release: 08/27/12

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

Born Free USA’s fourth annual fffashion (Fur Free Fashion) 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 today by Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, after a celebrity judging panel made its final decisions.

According to Roberts: “The mission of our fur free competition is to celebrate and encourage emerging fashion designers who truly believe in animal welfare and wildlife conservation and commit that philosophy to their creative work. Over the past four years of this competition, we have attracted spectacular designers with a real eye for style. The fffashion competition is a positive way to bring attention to the horrific fur industry.”

Judges for the competition were TV personalities Sharon and Kelly Osbourne; design and couture legend Elizabeth Emanuel, best-known for creating Princess Diana’s wedding gown; actress, bestselling author and beauty expert Victoria Principal; Melissa Rivers, host of fashion events on the TV Guide Channel and "Fashion Police" on E!, as well as a co-star on WE TV's "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?"; Tony Award-winning costume designer and Hollywood stylist Marina Draghici; Julia Barr, two-time Emmy Award winning actress (Brooke on “All My Children”); Brita Belli, editor of E/The Environmental Magazine; eco-model, activist and green living expert Summer Rayne Oakes; and fashion stylist and journalist Devon Poer.

To compete, a call for designers went out in January 2012 asking entrants 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.

The winners are:

First Place: Austin, Texas-based design team Fifile Nguyen and Michelle French, who run their own fashion business, for their “Miller Dress,” a swing dress that is 100 percent satin bamboo, and lined in 100 percent silk habotai. It features elaborate sleeve pleating and a deep neckline. The dress was made “with a conscious regard for social welfare and the environment. Increasing the demand for eco-friendly practices will ease its assimilation into the fashion world,” the winners explain. Judge Victoria Principal said: “This dress is made of sustainable and recyclable fabrics and is so classically beautiful that it can be worn by almost any female of any age. I would happily wear this dress!”

Second Place: Kumari Hangma Limbu, a native of Nepal who is now based in Hong Kong, for her “Butterfly Dress,” made of bamboo and cotton, featuring a high waistline and butterfly neckline. Judge Devon Poer commented on this dress by saying, "I based my decision on the use of her eco-friendly and animal-friendly materials … and the difficulty of construction with a clear presentation."

Third Place and Student Award: Philadelphia-based designer and Drexel University student Jessica Mintz won for her “Modern Lace-Up,” a couture gown with a corseted inner structure. The skirt is constructed of a three-ply crepe; the black in the bodice is double-faced satin; and the two grey tones in the bodice are silk diupioni. White organza up the neck is laced through gunmetal grommets and the back neck closure is a large gunmetal clasp.

The Green Award (for the most environmentally friendly design): Macungie, PA, native and Marist College student Rachel Lichtenwalner for her “Shell-Inspired Smocked Dress.” She said: “I was inspired by the texture of seashells and their natural beauty, so I created a smocking technique that was reminiscent of a sea shell texture. The top of the dress is custom smocked and all sewn by hand.” The fabric is 100 percent fair trade organic cotton. About this design, judge Summer Rayne Oakes said: "I enjoyed her attention to hand-detailing. The texture of the ruffled detailing is reminiscent of sea shells without making it too figurative. The one-shoulder and asymmetrical hemline also add a nice touch.”

Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to the United States 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 Travers, now chief executive officer of both organizations. Born Free’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.

Media Contact: Rodi Rosensweig, publicrelations@bornfreeusa.org, (203) 270-8929.

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