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The Driehaus Awards for Fashion Excellence
Designers

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.

2017 Designers
PHILIP ADDESSI
Inspired by armor plating on animals found around the world, and often copied and utilized in some of the world’s fiercest warriors.
JACQUELYN BRAUN
Drawing from tribal tattoos, and demonstrating the elegant, bold, and sleek look that a tattoo presents on the body.
ALLISON BUNAG
“Contrast” derives from the paints and images of traditional Chinese wear, to tactfully transform their fashion into contemporary pieces.
NICO CAMARGO
“Next Human” is a utopian fantasy set 20,000 years in the future where special beings have evolved into a much more advanced and perfect species.
NATALIE CASTRO
Inspired by children’s creativity, joy and unrestrained freedom. For the conformist, genuine, confident, and carefree. A skirt can be a jacket, hat or purse.
FRANCA DEFLORIO
“Wild West” bridal collection resembles the folklore of the American Frontier during the 19th century. Each piece is a tribute to the West’s diversity of women balancing their romantic and wild natured sides.
CATHERINE DEL VALLE
"La Vida Es Un Carnaval" is the homage to my grandmother’s fearless immigration from Cuba to Connecticut in the 1960s.
ELIZABETH EATON
Juxtaposition of classic silhouettes with intricate embroidery and daring fabrics.
VERNECCIA ETIENNE
"Apotheosis" is the elevation of an individual to divine status; perfect form with inspiration from Haute Couture, Egypt and all its luxury and the Golden Ratio.
GABRIELLE FALOONA
Glorifying the majesty of a woman through fantasy costumes inspired by classic fairy tales.
MICHEL’LE FORREST
Celebrating the pivotal role hair plays in the identity of a black woman.
DAVID GARCIA
Exploring the dichotomy between masculine and feminine, integrating tailored menswear elements and a clean minimalist design with luxe feminine details.
SARA JURACK
Women's ready-to-wear collection with transformable elements making them versatile and multi-seasonal, and influenced by the sense of hope that emerges after difficult times.
JOHN J. LENAHAN IV
Focused on eclectic interior design, molding together a variety of cultures into one amazing juxtaposition.
ALENDA LITTLE
A sleek and bold ready-to-wear collection inspired by the poisonous black hellebore plant.
ANNA LOOSLI
Manipulated leather and neoprene, accented with rivets and fur constructions, symbolizing Gothic architecture in fashion.
CARRIE MCMAHON
"Love in the Willow" is an avant-garde bridal collection that illustrates the love story depicted in "the Willow" China pattern through weaving an Irish and Chinese heritage together.
XAVIER MCMILLAN
A collection inspired by “FIRE!!,” an African-American literary magazine, using the spirit of rebellion and creating a visual image of the effects of “being woke,” and focused on challenging the respectability of politics.
ALYSON MONTEMAYOR
A contemplative collection representing the dark nature within our country’s political climate and extremism. aiming to construct an inclusive identity.
BRIANNA NEAL
“Beautiful Soul” collection reflects a woman with a colorful personality and strong appearance who is never afraid to showcase her culture in a bold and chic way.
PHUONG NGUYEN
Glamorous 90s inspired clubwear with a hint of California sun.
DIANA ELIZABETH PEREZ
“Florence Romance” embodies the engaging street scenery of Florence, the delicacy of women, elegance and feminism.
MELISSA ANN PETERSEN
“City Dweller” focuses on the concept of navigating through new places, while looking beyond a map to see intricate details that make each city unique.
QUINLAN MILNE ROJEK
“Florid” De-masculinizing menswear
JACQUIE WALLAERT
“Ethereal” is a sustainable concept depicting the beauty of flowers despite their many imperfections, evoking quirky femininity while being entirely constructed of recycled materials.