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Finalist from The Art Institute of Charlotte Announced in Nationwide Fashion Design Contest

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Finalist from The Art Institute of Charlotte Announced in Nationwide Fashion Design Contest


Local student Rebecca Joseph will represent The Art Institute of Charlotte in The Humane Society of the United States’ fourth annual Cool vs. Cruel fashion competition. The Cool vs. Cruel competition inspires design students enrolled in The Art Institutes’ fashion programs in its schools across North America to produce fur-free, animal-friendly fashions by using their own creativity to replace animal fur.

“The outfit created is striking in terms of color and texture, it captures attention upon seeing it approach, and the real joy is the added bonus of the draped ‘tail’ you see on the back of the gown,” said Stephanie Taylor, Academic Director of Fashion Marketing. “Not only is the ensemble vibrant, it conceptually addresses the problem of finding fur alternatives and also being eco-conscious at the same time.” 

Joseph’s garment is two-piece evening wear. Inspired by Asian culture and Koi fish, the skirt reflects the movement of the fish as well as the graceful tail action seen while swimming. The top is purposefully structured to create a strong contrast to the fluid skirt. The top is woven from found material and recycled paper; the skirt is draped out of recycled, mesh paper traditionally used in the medical field for patient and surgical gowns. The bottom was dyed in cool colors to represent the environment in which the fish live as well as to be appropriate for evening wear. The top is trimmed to reflect the popular use of fur as a decorative element. It is important to note that the student has no formal training in design or construction -- the goal in participating was to solve a problem based on research of the fur industry and sustainable fashion.  

The competition continues to grow in popularity among students at The Art Institutes. Joseph, a native of Canton, Ohio, is among the 15 local finalists who were chosen out of more than 150 entries to compete for the top prize nationally. Their entries will be judged by a star-studded panel of judges, including celebrities and top designers. The grand prize winner will receive a trip to New York City for the Nov. 13 award presentation and an all-expenses paid, week-long internship during New York Fashion Week with a celebrated fur-free designer. The award presentation will be co-hosted by Nigel Barker, world-renowned fashion photographer and judge on “America’s Next Top Model.”  

“This contest gives young designers the opportunity to showcase their compassion and talent through cruelty-free, fashion-forward design,” said Kristin Leppert, director of the Fur-Free Campaign for The Humane Society of the United States. “Today’s consumers don’t want to buy a garment that might have been ripped off the back of a conscious animal. These students join an ever-growing list of designers and retailers who reject the cruelty of fur production. We applaud their pledge to make compassion their fashion.” 

Learn more at or


Media contacts: The HSUS – Heather Sullivan: 301.548.7778;
The Art Institute of Charlotte – Susan Jetton : 704.357.5963;  

About The Humane Society of the United States
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization – backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. 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

About The Art Institutes
The Art Institutes ( is a system of more than 40 locations throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals. 

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