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For Immediate Release: 08/27/13

Winners of 5th Annual Fur Free Fashion (fffashion) Competition Announced by Born Free USA and Celebrity Judges

New designers from Illinois, Florida, Michigan selected for designs that include a flapper dress made from 9,000 aluminum pieces and a dress made out of an umbrella

Washington D.C. — Born Free USA's annual fur-free fashion competition once again attracted a wide variety of designs from around the world, reflecting the continued belief by emerging design stars in the benefits of shunning fur, protecting animals and the environment, and embracing the green fashion movement. Winners of Born Free USA's 5th Annual fffashion Competition were announced today by Adam Roberts, Executive Vice President, after a celebrity judging panel made their final decisions.

According to Roberts, "Over the past five years our fur free fashion competition has been celebrating and encouraging those in the fashion industry to implement a fur-free work ethic and a commitment to the environment. We want to identify and celebrate emerging designers who believe in animal welfare and wildlife conservation and have no interest in perpetuating the cruel fur industry. We are impressed with these winning designs chosen by our generous panel of celebrity judges and hope for a future where these eco-conscious designers can influence the fashion industry against using fur."

Judges for the competition this year were award-winning television, film, and theater actress, Joanna Lumley; international design and couture legend, Elizabeth Emanuel, perhaps best known for creating Princess Diana's wedding gown; international top model and reality television star, Joanna Krupa; actress and television host, Katie Cleary; costume designer, fashion historian, and professor, David James Cole; and Hollywood fashion designer to the stars, Dalia MacPhee. The panel also includes Brita Belli, editor of E/The Environmental Magazine and Summer Rayne Oakes, eco-model, activist, and green living expert.

Emanuel said of the winner, "I absolutely love everything about this knitted sweater. The colours are vibrant and the styling is cutting-edge yet very wearable and commercial. Most of all I can't wait to see what Colin will create next. Definitely he is a star in the making!"

Lumley said, "In judging this year's entries, I was thrilled by the hard work and detailed application shown, and thought the reasons given by each designer for using their chosen materials was convincing. I was stunned by the imagination and beauty of all the contestants' work this year. It was inspiring to see their fashion and hear their voices."

To compete, a call for designers went out in January 2013, asking entrants to create a woman's or man's coat, shirt, pants, dress, skirt, or suit and submit their entry by April 15, 2013 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.

2013 Winners:

First Place and Student Award: Wilmette, IL native, Colin MacGregor, won for his "Boom, Bam, Pow" 100 percent cotton patchwork sweater. A student at Rhode Island School of Design, he said, "I was inspired by my childhood obsession with superheroes and designed this based on classic comic books – translating the visual aesthetic and mood of comics into sophisticated modern street wear. By focusing on knitwear, I am able to choose natural yarns and knit pattern pieces, enabling a zero-waste, sustainable process." He adds, "I have found that people often view environmentally-friendly fashion as a trend. However, I believe that designers will need to take steps to be more sustainable as resources become more and more scarce. As someone studying apparel design and economics, I feel that becoming an environmentally conscious designer will be an economic necessity. There are simple ways to cut down on waste without sacrificing quality of clothing and design, but the question remains whether consumers and designers will support this."

Second Place: Jaimie Partin, a native of Port St. John, Florida, won for her "Umbrella-la" dress made of reused black umbrellas. Currently a sophomore at International Academy of Design and Technology in Orlando, FL, Partin wanted to make a dress out of reusable materials and was inspired by the way umbrellas "fan out" as reflected in the dress design. She says, "I am against using fur and, as a designer, strive to use as many eco-friendly fabrics as possible. It's selfish of us to harm the environment when we have the opportunity to reserve it. God has given us many options for clothing material, so why shed blood when we don't need to?"

Third Place: Des Plaines, IL native Vanessa Walilko, who now lives in Evanston, won for her roaring 20s "Flapper" dress made by weaving 6,000 aluminum rings and 3,000 aluminum disks together with pliers using "ancient chainmaille techniques." She explains, "Aluminum is the only material on the planet that is 100 percent recyclable. I seek to make pieces of wearable art that help shift values to sustainability and protecting the environment. I believe high fashion shouldn't have a high environmental cost. We can make fashion choices that protect animals and the environment without sacrificing style."

The Green Award (for the most environmentally friendly design): Kalamazoo, MI native and current East Lansing resident, Krity Shrestha, won for her "Phoenix" dress created by "upcycling two garments purchased at thrift stores." She explains, "I cut apart two dresses and created this design which was inspired by the fall of the Sui dynasty that ruled China." The materials used were velvet, chiffon, sequins and beads. "I believe that environmentally friendly fashion and going fur free is the future of fashion. As we slowly run out of resources and create more pollution as designers and trendsetters, it is the next step we need to take."

Photos of the winning designs can be seen at www.bornfreeusa.org/fffashion

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 America the message of "compassionate conservation" -- the vision of the U.K.-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 CEO 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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