DVF and Art Ortenberg Celebrate the Winner of the Liz Claiborne Fashion Scholarship

Gohar Rajabzadeh thought she had a problem with her registration at Miami International University.

“The school called me and said ‘you have some financial problems’ and wanted me to come in,” she shared. “I went into the office and they told me, ‘You won!’” The prize was the first Liz Claiborne Fashion Scholarship, which carries with it a $25,000 prize to apply to school tuition and related costs. “It was great,” she added, “I called my sister and she started screaming on the phone.”

Rajabzadeh was joined by Claiborne’s husband and business partner Arthur Ortenberg, CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg, CFDA executive director Steven Kolb and a roomful of designers and industry supporters to celebrate the scholarship Tuesday evening at Diane von Furstenberg’s studio in New York’s Meatpacking District.

Entrants to the competition were asked to re-interpret Claiborne’s concept of design – “fit the way you live” – and Ortenberg said he was impressed by the entries. “I saw some of the portfolios myself – they were extraordinarily professional. It must have been very difficult to select a winner. It’s important to have a vision that you really believe in and have the skills necessary to implement that vision. That’s what Liz was all about.”

Judge Dana Buchman was drawn to Rajabzadeh’s fresh design aesthetic. “Her designs weren’t contrived. They were interesting and wearable. I’ve always been a designer who likes clothes that are wearable.”

Rajabzadeh is no stranger to winning prizes for her designs – she also won the Humane Society’s Cool vs. Cruel contest in 2008. The prize for that contest is a week-long internship with fur-free designer Victoria Bartlett, which starts on Tuesday.  Bartlett shared: “I’m extremely excited to have her.  She’s only with me for a week, but I can tell she’s a very hands-on person, we’ll have her working on all the last minute fixers.”