Vancouver student wins award for her fur-free Fendi

A fashion internship in New York awaits Johana Zara

Johana Zara has been sketching cartoon characters at a young age, but did not imagine that such creative expression would earn her The Humane Society’s Cool vs. Cruel Fashion Design top prize.

The competition challenges fashion students throughout the United States and Canada to reinterpret and replace animal fur on runway looks by famous designers. The judges said Johana’s Fendi-inspired piece using faux-fur, faux-suede and polyester chiffon was both creative and compassionate. The diploma student from The Art Institute of Vancouver will receive her award on May 8 at the new retail outlet STORY on 144 Tenth Avenue.

Johana's winning design

As grand prize winner, Johana will receive an expense-paid, weeklong internship in New York City with fur-free designer Victoria Bartlett. Bartlett has judged the Cool vs. Cruel competition for the past two years and was the recipient of The HSUS’s 2010 Compassion in Fashion Award.

Her co-winners are Matthew Vice from The Art Institute of Dallas, second; Golden Skyy from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, third. Melissa Hoffman from The Art Institute of California-Los Angeles received an honorable mention.

“I’m amazed by the creativity of these future designers,” Bartlett said. “I’m hoping that in the coming years, more designers will begin making compassionate choices and move away from the cruelty of fur.”

Johana confessed to a feeling of “euphoria” on seeing her idea on paper transform into a unique Johana Zara garment. “It’s unreal –euphoric even,” she said in a statement. “There have sometimes been struggles in this work but that occasional euphoria makes it all worth it.”

Aside from Bartlett, the other judges were designers John Bartlett, Victoria Bartlett, Marc Bouwer, Ally Chomer, Leanne Hilgart and Elizabeth Olsen; fashion photographer Nigel Barker; Paper Magazine editor Mickey Boardman; and The Discerning Brute blog founder Joshua Katcher.

Johana made her very first sketchbook at 7 – just a binder of blank white paper and scraps — and found herself sketching her favorite cartoon characters, detail by detail. It was in fashion school where she realized that what she needed to translate on paper was her own interpretation of images – not other people’s.

“This (award) means a lot to me as I just decided to focus on fashion design this year,” she said. “My passion for sketching and creating came out through this competition and winning makes me feel that design is the right route for me.”

The Cool vs. Cruel Competition is open to The Art Institutes students. This year’s finalists were selected from among more than 200 entries.


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