The Driehaus Awards for Fashion Excellence
Application Requirements

Applicant must be enrolled as a junior or senior undergraduate student in good standing in a fashion design program at a partnering school. The school partners for the 2018 – 2019 academic year are:

  • Columbia College Chicago
  • Dominican University
  • Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago

One collection may be submitted per designer and must meet the following requirements:

  • contain three to five garments
  • be constructed during the 2018 - 2019 academic year
  • represent womenswear, menswear, or gender non-conforming
  • represent ready-to-wear, eveningwear, outerwear, sportswear, bridal, or wearable art
  • may include accessories such as footwear, scarves, millinery, handbags, gloves, and costume jewelry. *collections may not be submitted containing only accessories.
Evaluation Criteria

The Driehaus Awards for Fashion Excellence’s Selection Committee evaluates each candidate based on the merits of their collection and their professional potential. In reviewing applications, the committee considers the student’s overall brand vision and commitment to the business of fashion. Each collection is evaluated based on:

  • construction techniques
  • overall proportion, balance & fit
  • craftsmanship
  • design concept
  • cohesiveness of collection
  • innovation & creativity
  • material selection & execution
  • logistical feasibility for runway presentation
Application Requirements

Student designers interested in applying must provide a completed entry submission, which includes:

  • Driehaus Design Initiative Application
  • Moodboard. Requirements include:
    • 8.5” x 11” sheet, PDF format
  • Front and back photos of each look. Requirements include:
    • 8.5” x 11” sheet, portrait orientation, PDF format
    • One look per page (Please include two images per page: one front and one back)
    • Name and school in lower right-hand corner of each page
  • Sketches of looks
    • JPEG file of sketches illustrating all designs submitted
  • Written biographical statement which answers the following questions:
    • What are your plans for your brand or career? (50 words maximum)
    • Describe your short- and long-term goals and how a financial award/mentoring from Driehaus Design Initiative would help in achieving those goals (50 words maximum)

In early April, student designers who have fulfilled all application requirements will be invited to present their collection in person to the Selection Committee.

School Representatives will coordinate 10-minute interviews with Selection Committee and each designer who has submitted completed application materials by deadline.

*Interviews may not be rescheduled except in approved circumstances due to emergencies.

At Interview, Designer is required to present collection and describe design concept, construction and materials.

Designer must bring to Interview and present to Selection Committee:

  • Enough completed work to represent collection (completed garments are encouraged).
  • Two (2) quantity 8.5" x 11", color printed copies of front and back photos of each look that were submitted with application


In early April, up to (25) designers will be selected for The Driehaus Awards for Fashion Excellence, which will be held on April 26, 2019 in Chicago.