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Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Announces 2013 Award Winners

MODESTO, Calif., Jan. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Ecco Domani ® Wines of Italy announces today the recipients of the 2013 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation awards: TOME in the women's design category; Ian Velardi in the men's design category; Deborah Pagani in the accessories design category; and SUSAN WOO in the sustainable design category. Each winner, selected from a pool of up-and-coming designers, receives a $25,000 grant to help showcase their style on the most sought after runway: New York's Fall 2013 Fashion Week.

Now in its 12 th season, the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation has awarded more than $1.7 million in support of emerging designers, and helped to launch the careers of many of today's best and brightest fashion stars, including: Zac Posen, Derek Lam, Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Alexander Wang, and Prabal Gurung.

Embodying the idea that good taste is always in vogue, Ecco Domani wines are crafted to add a special touch to the everyday. With bright fruit flavors and a fresh, approachable style, Ecco Domani wines are at once a perfect food pairing and an effortless complement to any occasion.  To celebrate this fusion of good taste in wine and style, Ecco Domani created the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation.

"Through the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation, we are able to support talented fashion designers who are committed to celebrating style every day," said Molly Davis, Vice President of Marketing for Ecco Domani Wines of Italy. "Today, we are proud to raise a glass to this year's award recipients and welcome them into the exclusive group of Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation alumni."

Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation judge Marylou Luther, editor at the International Fashion Syndicate, furthered Davis' sentiments, saying, "By supporting emerging design talent for more than a decade, Ecco Domani has expanded the definition of style and extended its reach from the wine glass to the runway and beyond."

More about the 2013 designers:

Women's Design Category Winner: TOMEThe foundation of TOME started in 1988 while Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin were studying a Bachelor of Design, Fashion at the University of Technology Sydney. Their careers took very different paths, Ramon into fashion design and Ryan as buyer for two of Australia's leading luxury multi brand stores, yet both knew that if they were ever to start a label, it would be together.

Developing his design aesthetic at Alberta Ferretti and Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Atelier, Ramon was most recently design director for Derek Lam. Ryan edited pioneering online magazine pagesonline.com as well as shooting for OYSTER, Marie Claire and The Sunday Times.

2011 saw the birth of both Ryan and Ramon's Opus – TOME. Based in New York, TOME sees the pair's collective experience expressed in a range that is practical and straightforward - clear cut, essential dressing. Purity is the cornerstone of this 'every woman' brand. Form follows function and every piece in the collection is infinitely wearable.

Men's Design Category Winner: Ian Velardi Ian Velardi began his career in a training program at luxury menswear brand Hickey Freeman—then part of Hartmarx Corporation (HMX)—which allowed Ian to learn all aspects of the clothing business, from manufacturing and import/export nuances to design and marketing strategies. Ian was a founding member of the brand extension Hickey, and acted as the Brand Manager, overseeing sales, marketing, branding, and design. Ian also designed sportswear for Hart Schaffner Marx, oversaw the rise of Maine based sportswear company Rogues Gallery and launched his own luxury hat line, Hattan, which was sold in Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York, Isetan Tokyo and Ships Tokyo.

This focused menswear path created a clear understanding in the way men look at fashion and approach style, in addition to the knowhow to take a design from concept to production to retail. In his experience at Hickey, Ian forged deep connections with Italian mills and manufacturers. All of the production for the first four seasons of Ian Velardi has taken place in Italy. The fabrics and materials are from top-notch mills and suppliers unavailable to most new brands, and all garments are made in top-tier factories. The result is clothing that looks, wears and feels luxurious.

Ian Velardi launched his namesake men's clothing line ( Ian Velardi) for Fall 2011. The collection consists of luxury sportswear, tailored clothing and accessories, and was exclusively launched at Barneys New York for the first season. The business has since expanded to select Bloomingdale's stores, select Saks Fifth Avenue stores, and select specialty stores.

Ian was recently nominated by GQ as a Best New Menswear Designer in America for 2012.  Through this nomination Ian created a capsule collection for GAP with nationwide and international distribution. Ian Velardi grew up in New Jersey, just outside of Manhattan.  He does not have any formal education in fashion design.  Ian graduated from Indiana University in 2004, with a degree in marketing. Clothing has always been a lifelong passion that Ian has nurtured on his own, through years of dedication and hands on work experience. Ian lives in Manhattan where he scours the streets constantly in search of inspiration. His unique aesthetic is equal parts classic American sportswear, sartorial influenced tailored clothing, and street style. 

Sustainable Design Category Winner: SUSAN WOO Susan Woo was born and raised in New York, the fashion capital of the world. Growing up surrounded by the creativity and pulse of the fashion industry, Woo cultivated her strong opinions and style from an early age. She aims to create beautiful clothing that reflects a woman's lifestyle in addition to her personal style. SUSAN WOO offers a full range of ready-to-wear for the modern, chic and professional woman, with options for both day and evening.

Continuing her passion to start her own company one day, Woo studied at Cornell University where she received her BS in Fashion Design and Business. Her luxury background was developed with companies such as Louis Vuitton, Derek Lam and Chanel, thus influencing her taste for quality and design. Coupling her style with her love and support of the environment, Woo offers a unique perspective to the fashion market.

Woo's environmental and social support is reflected throughout the company. Having always been passionate about environmental causes, she wanted to start a brand that reflected a modern woman's version of environmental fashion. "The future of fashion relies on both the ingenuity of design and the sustainability of the environment," states Woo.

SUSAN WOO's brand philosophy represents the modern way of living and dressing: blending high design with both environmental and social consciousness. Growing up in a family "obsessed with health," she was raised to believe that organic simply meant better, and applies that philosophy to her clothing.  Woo also believes that being a socially responsible company means more than just using organic fabrics. While all of the fabrics used are 100% all-natural and sustainable (and includes organic wool, cottons and cashmeres), they are also sourced from companies that have a strong environmental commitment.  Extra steps are taken to ensure that her everyday operations are environmentally conscious and energy-efficient as possible. Finally, she ensures that all of her garments are produced using fair labor practices. Woo's mission is to show the most discerning fashionista that being "environmental" means creating the highest quality product.

Accessories Design Category Winner: Deborah Pagani Deborah Pagani founded her eponymous line of 'Deco Rock' inspired fine jewelry in 2008. Inspired by New York City, her home, the culture of Rock'n'roll and the glamour of classic Art Deco style, she has already left her mark on the fine jewelry world and has been recognized for her unprecedented approach to fine jewelry.

Modern luxury, art, and fashion are the main passions that surround both her personal and professional life. Prior success as a top Manhattan beauty expert exposed her to a variety of women, from whom she found a common thread; the desire to feel beautiful and sexy. "I encountered different kinds of women from all walks of life with different tastes for fashion, art and jewelry. But what I discovered to be within every woman was an innate desire to feel beautiful... I design with these women in mind," says Deborah.

Deborah's main line includes three collections, with an additional line of lower priced items, still fine jewelry, that were inspired by motifs from existing pieces. "I love being able to mix large and small pieces together but without having to wear costume jewelry," she says. Her main collections comprise pieces that have been inspired by her many muses, including Joan Crawford, Grace Joans, Cleopatra and many more. She explains, "I am and have always been inspired by confident and fearless women." The collection is sold around the globe and is consistently featured in top fashion and editorial publications.

The Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation selection committee includes: Marylou Luther (Editor of the International Fashion Syndicate); Sally Singer (Creative Director for Digital at Vogue); Kim Hastreiter (Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Paper); Nicole Fischelis (Group Vice President/Director of Fashion and Global Forecasting at Macy's); Julie Gilhart (Fashion Industry Consultant); Ruth Finley (Publisher of Fashion Calendar); Ken Downing (Senior Vice President/Fashion Director at Neiman Marcus); Jay Bell (Vice President, Men's Designer Collections & Men's Contemporary Sportswear at Barneys); Alex Badia (Men's Fashion Director of Women's Wear Daily); and Josh Peskowitz (Men's Fashion Director at Bloomingdales).

Nearly 200 designers from across the U.S. submitted applications for the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation awards. To be eligible, entrants must be in the design business for no longer than five years and have a minimum of one retail account. In addition to references, applicants are required to submit look books and/or photographs of their work, as well as a short video explaining why they deserve the award. From the initial pool of applicants, up to 25 semi-finalists were chosen in each category. Judges then chose winners by evaluating samples from the semi-finalists' most recent collections.

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