How does a young, unknown designer successfully get their first collection off the ground? $40,000 and the blessing of an industry hotshot would certainly help, which is exactly what’s at stake at the MADE for Peroni Young Designer Awards, a fashion design competition from Milk Studios’ MADE Fashion Week and the Italian brand. This year the competition handed its second-ever prize over to Chris Gelinas, a New York-based womenswear designer.
“I feel a huge sense of excitement—and relief—knowing that I will have mentorship from MADE along with Peroni’s generous donation to help get my collection off the ground,” Gelinas told DuJour after the event held during New York Fashion Week. Gelinas’ collection was inspired by the sun and sun safety, which led him to examine the opposing qualities of protection and vulnerability. “By contrasting armor-like silhouettes with delicate lingerie-inspired details, I was able to find a balance between these two sides of a woman,” said Gelinas. The $40,000 prize will be used to finance the design and creation of his collection, which will be shown at MADE Fashion Week fall 2014 next February.
We spoke with Nicole Fasolino, creative art director at GILT Groupe and one of the judges on a heavyweight panel including model Coco Rocha, Antonio Barardi, Zanna Roberts Rassi and last year’s winner Nolan Bellavance, about what it’s like to weigh in on the MADE awards.
What was it like being on the panel judging the second-annual competition?
I loved being a judge at the contest! From seeing the designs to meeting the designers and deliberating on a winner, it was such a great experience simply because everyone involved has multiple layers of talent and insight in the fashion world.
Was it hard to choose a winner? Why did you decide on Chris Gelinas?
Yes, of course it was hard to choose. Everyone who entered the contest is wildly talented and has such major potential. But for me, Chris showed technical skill, a pure sense of beauty and a real potential to grow into a long-lasting brand. We were up against time trying to make a final decision, but Chris Gelinas swept us all away at the last second as we considered what would come next for each designer.
What set his collection apart from the others?
Chris seemed like a full package. But I also felt he told a clear story, and his clothes felt positive, pretty and self-assuring. These days, I need positivity and happiness simply because there’s so much darkness in the world right now, so I’m loving clothes that are hopeful and tell a story of such. His pieces were evocative, refreshing, wearable. I could create a hundred photo shoot story boards around them.
Why do you think it’s important to support initiatives like this that help up and coming designers?
The fashion world is swarming with talent on every level—there is truly limitless potential. It’s just a matter of finding and cultivating those that are deeply rooted in fashion, from the core, those who have longevity and endless vision.
What advice would you give to a young, hopeful designer?
Find yourself. Go with it. Don’t ever give up. Pay your dues, learn from everything you see and touch and when your time comes, you’ll be ready. Oh, and, always be nice!