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Style: Wendy Yu Announces the Winners of the Inaugural Yu Prize at Shanghai Fashion Week

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After weeks of mostly-virtual shows in New York and Europe, the energy at Shanghai Fashion Week is palpable—even from 7,300 miles away. The shows began today and run through April 13th with more than 100 events, many of them physical shows featuring packed audiences. Most designers are actually staging their shows twice: once for press and celebrities, and once for young consumers.

Earlier today, investor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Wendy Yu kicked things off with a gala at the Yu Garden to announce the winner of the Yu Prize, her new award for emerging designers in China. Yu and her jurors, including Shanghai Fashion Week’s Madame Lu, Giambattista Valli, Vogue’s Chioma Nnadi, Jason Wu, Edison Chen, Labelhood’s Tasha Liu, and Andrew Bolton, spent the past month meeting with 16 designers (IRL and virtually) to review a series of presentations and creative assignments. “These designers are part of the new wave,” Yu says. “They are not only designers, but culture-changers as we move from ‘made in China’ to ‘created in China.’ They represent Chinese creativity that honors its roots, but is also innovative, confident, and globally adaptive.”

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Yu’s ambition was to promote all of the designers and identify the ones that could be successful on a global scale with the appropriate funding and support. Last night, she awarded Chenpeng’s Peng Chen the top prize: one million renminbi, or $150,000; the opportunity to sell his collections at Harrods; and a year-long mentoring program with Only The Brave’s Renzo Rosso. Yu also announced three additional prizes: Susan Fang took home the Yu Prize Creative Pioneer Award in partnership with Piaget, a prize of 300,000 renminbi (or $45,000); Donsee10’s Danqi Chen picked up the Yu Prize Sustainability Champion award in partnership with Rémy Martin for a bag made from “grape leather” upcycled from the winemaking process, with a prize of 10,000 renminbi, or $1,500; and At-One-Ment’s Wanbing Huang won the Yu Prize Infinite Beauty award in partnership with Yumee for a project inspired by the makeup brand’s signature lipstick, with a prize of 10,000 renminbi, or $1,500.

In the next few months, Yu and her team will introduce the winners to contacts throughout the industry to nurture their businesses in China and abroad. “It really helped to have a local, but also truly global jury when evaluating the finalists,” Yu adds. “We hoped to find winners that can be successful in their home market as well as around the world.”

For those in Shanghai, all 16 finalists’ collections will be displayed in “The New Wave of Chinese Fashion” exhibition at HKRI Taikoo Hui mall until April 25th. Read more about the prize at yu-holdings.com.

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