The Driehaus Awards for Fashion Excellence

The student designers who receive the opportunity to participate in The Driehaus Awards for Fashion Excellence represent the best in innovation, craftsmanship and creativity of emerging talent in Chicago. The selected designers are some of the leading students in fashion design from their respective programs.

Applications are only considered from students enrolled as junior and senior fashion design students at partnering fashion design schools. In reviewing applications, the committee considers the student's overall brand vision and commitment to the business of fashion. The Driehaus Awards for Fashion Excellence's selection committee evaluations each candidate based on the merits of their collection and their professional potential.

The meticulous selection process assembles a group of up to 25 students showcasing a variety of ready-to-wear, bridal wear, evening wear, outerwear, sportswear, and wearable art collections at The Driehaus Awards for Fashion Excellence. Selected students showcase their designs in a runway show competition judged by a panel of fashion industry experts.

Driehaus Design Initiative provides cash prizes and trophies to the top three designers. Up to five designers may receive honorable mention recognition. Awards include:

  • First Place award of $7,500
  • Second Place award of $5,000
  • Third Place award of $2,500
  • Honorable Mention award of $1,000
  • Distinguished Designer award*

*This award is presented by a judge representing a retail partner to the designer whose collection best represents the store’s brand and customer.

Past retail and first place awarded designers have received window and retail displays at major Chicago retailers’ flagship locations including Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, additional mentorship opportunities and prizes will be announced.

All participating designers:
Participating students receive exclusive invitations to mentorship luncheons, behinds-the-scenes tours of fashion venues including the costume collection at the Chicago History Museum, and Runway to Showroom: Driehaus Business of Fashion Symposium.