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Winners Announced in Nationwide Fur-Free Fashion Competition

Students from Vancouver, Dallas, and Pittsburgh take top awards from The HSUS and The Art Institutes

PITTSBURGH--The Humane Society of the United States and The Art Institutes announced Johana Zara from The Art Institute of Vancouver as the grand prize winner of the seventh annual Cool vs. Cruel Fashion Design Competition. Matthew Vice from The Art Institute of Dallas placed second, Golden Skyy from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh placed third and Melissa Hoffman from The Art Institute of California — Los Angeles received an honorable mention.

The Cool vs. Cruel Competition challenges Art Institutes students in fashion areas of study throughout the United States and in Vancouver to reinterpret and replace animal fur on runway looks by famous designers. This year’s finalists were selected from among more than 200 entries.

“This program encourages fashion design students to make informed choices by educating them about the millions of foxes, raccoons and other animals who are killed every year for the fur trade,” said Michelle McDonald, fashion outreach manager of the fur-free campaign for The Humane Society of the United States.

As grand prize winner, Zara 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. Zara earned the prize with her Fendi-inspired piece using long faux-fur, faux-suede and polyester chiffon.

“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.”

Selecting the winners 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.

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

Photos of the finalists and their designs are available upon request or can be viewed on The HSUS’ Fur-Free campaign Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/HSUSFur-Free.

“Entering competitions such as this presents an amazing opportunity for students to learn and hone their craft,” said Vice President of Academic Affairs at The Art Institutes, John Pufahl. “They gain practical, hands-on experience and can build their portfolios of work, which will prove beneficial when they enter the industry.”

Learn more about the competition and see the original runway looks at CoolvsCruel.org. Find out more about The Art Institutes schools at artinstitutes.edu.


The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

The Art Institutes (www.artinstitutes.edu) is a system of more than 45 educational institutions located throughout North America. The Art Institutes schools provide an important source for design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals. Several institutions included in The Art Institutes system are campuses of South University. See aiprograms.info for program duration, tuition, fees and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success and other important info