Jason Wu and Tory Burch Pass the Torch to the Newest Rising Stars
Fri Jan 30, 4:00 PM EST
Renata Espinosa

New York – A Rising Star award winner who has seen his star rise in the week since the inauguration of President Obama, womenswear designer Jason Wu, showed his support for the newest crop of up-and-coming fashion and product designers at the 12th Annual Rising Star awards on Thursday, Jan. 29, at New York's famed Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center. Wu, who won in the women's apparel category last year recently shot into the spotlight with his design for Michelle Obama's inaugural ball gown.

"I think the best thing that's happened is that my retailers are really excited, and I think that's great," Wu told Fashion Wire Daily on the recent flood of attention. "We need excitement in the current economic climate and we need to stimulate the market. It puts emphasis back on the young designers. It's difficult for young designers to get support in these tough times, so I think it will be really good for the American fashion industry."

Wu's optimism is good news for Christian Cota, this year's women's apparel Rising Star winner. Cota, who hails from Mexico City, designs elegantly draped day and eveningwear for the smart and chic set. Like Wu, Cota studied at Parsons School of Design in New York and credits his mother and grandmother for his early love of fashion. In the men's apparel category, Carlos Campos and Sergio Davila tied for the honors.

While the retail sector continues to struggle, providing a new template for retail experiences are Alexandra Adame and Nikki Fontanella of The Dressing Room, winners of the retail award, following in the footsteps of successful entrepreneur Tory Burch, 2005 winner in the same category and the keynote speaker this year. Adame and Fontella's boutique, located in the Lower East Side of New York, operates as a cooperative for local designers, a cocktail bar and movie screening site - a forward-thinking concept where shopping and social networking intermingle.

Other winners included handbag designers and sisters Claudia, Laura and Alejandra Laviada of Pantera in the accessories category, Julie Birns of Prescriptives for Prescriptives/Estee Lauder in beauty/fragrance corporate, Cathy Gins of Aromawear for beauty/fragrance entrepreneur, Ariane Zurcher Jewelry for fine jewelry and Wayne Ludlum of Vestalife for home/interior design.

The Rising Star awards are given by Fashion Group International, a global non-profit organization of professionals in design, from apparel to accessories, beauty and home. Their annual "Night of Stars" highlights the achievements of the international fashion community.

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