The Humane Society of the United States and The Art Institutes announced Nicolle Bajgrowicz, a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design program at The Art Institute of California – Orange County, a campus of Argosy University, as the grand prize winner of the eighth annual Cool vs. Cruel Fashion Design Competition. As grand prize winner, Bajgrowicz will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and an expense-paid, week-long internship in New York City with celebrated fur-free designer Victoria Bartlett.
“The Cool vs. Cruel Fashion Design Competition encourages fashion students to make humane choices by educating them about problems in the fur trade, including mislabeling, environmental impacts and welfare concerns for the millions of raccoon dogs, foxes, and other animals killed every year for their fur,” said Michelle McDonald, fashion outreach manager of the fur-free campaign for The Humane Society of the United States.
Cool vs. Cruel challenges fashion students at The Art Institutes schools throughout North America to creatively reinterpret and replace animal fur on runway designs by Marc Jacobs, J. Mendel, BCBGMAXAZRIA and Jean-Paul Gaultier.
In addition, four students from across the country in The Art Institutes’ Fashion programs received top honors. Evelyn Thompson, a student in the Bachelor of Arts in Fashion & Retail Management program at The Art Institute of Charleston, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, placed second and Vu Nguyen a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design program at The Art Institute of Seattle, placed third and will receive $750 and $500, respectively. Cheryl Vick, a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design at The Art Institute of Houston, and Brehon Williams, a student in the Bachelor of Arts in Fashion & Retail Management program at The Art Institute of Virginia Beach, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, both received honorable mention.
“We are proud to partner with The Humane Society of the United States in the Cool vs. Cruel Fashion Design Competition, which offers our students a fantastic opportunity to support an important cause and to show their creativity and skill in a national arena,” said John Pufahl, vice president of academic affairs, The Art Institutes.
The judging panel selecting the winners included designers John Bartlett, Victoria Bartlett, Anna Fortino, Leanne Hilgart, Nary Manivong, Elizabeth Olsen, PAPER magazine editor Mickey Boardman, founder and president of Donna Salyers’ Fabulous Furs Donna Salyers, writer and reporter Nell Alk and editor of TheDiscerningBrute.com Joshua Katcher.
“I have gone down many different paths to lead me to where I am today. I could not be happier with my decision to stop studying biology and follow my aspirations of being a fashion designer. This win means everything to me because I hope it gets the word out about cruelty-free clothing,” said Bajgrowicz. “As a designer I think this is the right and responsible way to design, and I hope many more young designers will make the decision to go cruelty-free.”
Photos of the finalists and their designs are available upon request or can be viewed on The HSUSFur-Free Campaign’s Facebook page.
Learn more about the competition, view the original runway looks and find out about The Humane Society of the United States fur-free campaign at humanesociety.org/coolvscruel. To learn more about The Art Institutes, visit artinstitutes.edu.