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The New Kids On The Block: The Dorchester 2011 Semifinalists

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To make a star, or perpetuate one? That was the question the judges of this year’s Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize asked themselves as they deliberated over a list of 77 contending designers at New York’s Le Bernardin on Wednesday afternoon. After two hours of discussion, this year’s panel of judges, which included Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa (pictured, right), Thom Browne, Marchesa’s Keren Craig, Giovanna Battaglia, Elizabeth Saltzman Walker, Derek Blasberg, Shala Monroque, and Lauren Santo Domingo, had whittled the list down to five names in a miraculously seamless manner.

“Let me tell you, last year it was not that easy—there was definitely shouting,” said Bronwyn Cosgrave of the panel she assembled last year. (The group included the likes of Manolo Blahnik and Daphne Guinness, and gave the top prize to Thomas Tait.) “I’m excited by this year’s list because at the end of the day, I started this project to help young designers get their name out there and to support them.” That mission became a clear group initiative after judges repeatedly brought up familiar names like Cushnie et Ochs, Ohne Titel, and Jen Kao, and then eventually removed them from the running for the $40,000 prize and the opportunity to show during Paris Fashion Week. Instead, the group chose lesser-known names like jewelry label Anndra Neen, Sofia Sizzi’s womenswear line, Giulietta, Siki Im (pictured, left), and Setareh Mohtarez (an unknown who judges repeatedly mentioned for the beautiful sculptural work). The only debatable exception to the rule was the fifth finalist: Julian Louie. “He interned for me at Calvin and he’s extremely talented,” Costa said of the designer. In addition to working with Costa, he’s received guidance from Santo Domingo, and recently finished a shoe collaboration with Aldo. The winner will be announced in late October.


Photo: Mark Von Holden/ Getty Images

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