On Wednesday, Italian winemaker Ecco Domani celebrated the winners of its 2012 Fashion Fund at a breakfast awards ceremony at the Museum of Art and Design. The seven winners, who each walked away with a whopping $25,000 to invest in their brands -- specifically, their Fashion Week offerings, include menswear designer Tim Coppens, womenswear label CorrellCorrell, Julie Haus and Jason Alkire’s Haus Alkire, new label Sunhee, accessories label Dezso by Sara Beltran, and Titania Inglis, who won in the sustainable category.
This year’s winners are certainly in good company -- past Ecco Domani Fashion Fund winners have included everyone from Derek Lam to Prabal Gurung. Marylou Louther, long-time editor of the The International Fashion Syndicate and one of this year’s judges, called winning the award "a right of passage." Other judges who were involved in the selection process included former Barneys Fashion Director Julie Gilhart, T editor Sally Singer and Senior Vice President and Fashion Director of Neiman Marcus Ken Downing.
Since founding its Fashion Fund eleven years ago, Ecco Domani has distributed a whopping $1.3 million dollars to support emerging fashion talents.
Julie Haus told us that winning "has been life changing." She said, "When I say that, people look at us and say, 'How so?' But the appointments that we have on the calendar now, the press, just to have that little star next to your name alongside all of these other people who have proven themselves to be longstanding in the industry -- it means a lot.”
As for how Haus plans to spend the prize money, she said, "It’s all going towards the production and the show [for the upcoming Fall 2012 collection]. We are doing a short runway and then a presentation. Bringing all of that together and the production is not easy and it’s not cheap.”
Haus is presenting her collection at the Lincoln Center Tents on February 14th. "The collection is about 70 percent finished," she said. "We are just starting our castings. The models aren’t even really here until this week, so it all kind of happens right together -- hair and makeup too. It’s a whirlwind." Haus picked a dress from her upcoming Fall 2012 collection to wear to the awards breakfast -- giving the gathered reporters a sneak peek at what's coming at Fashion Week -- and says the collection emphasizes ink colors and texture including tweeds and custom furs.
As for the challenges of growing a fledgling fashion brand, Haus said, "The last few years have taught us to take it day by day and season by season and really work closely with the accounts -- not just selling, but what can we do better and getting feedback constantly. In any creative business you’re only as good as your last collection, and I always remember that."