A potent fusion of Haute Couture and Slavonian folk culture is behind the winning collection of this year’s iD International Emerging Designer Awards, supported by the Otago Polytechnic, from Croatian emerging fashion designer Damir Begović.

Damir Begović, a graduate of the University of Zagreb, took out the H&J Smith First Place Prize, winning against 42 other top emerging designers from around the globe at tonight’s final show with his collection EX-vonia, an exploration of the migration of Slavonian natives and the resulting loss of cultural identity and heritage.  

“It was the ultimate combination of culture and couture,” says iD Guest Judge Benny Castles, Director and Designer at WORLD.

“The impeccable craftsmanship displayed in Damir’s collection, alongside the drama within it, made for a show-stopping collection on the runway.”

Guest Judge Karen Walker agreed, saying the stand-out collection was faultlessly constructed, combining ready-to-wear elements with exceptional design.

“Seeing the collection on the runway, there was that wow moment – where the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and you understand the story it’s telling.”

The judging panel, made up of Head Judge Tanya Carlson and long-term judge Margarita Robertson (of NOM*d), alongside guest judges Karen Walker, Maggie Hewitt (of Maggie Marilyn), Benny Castles (of WORLD) and Amanda Linnell editor of Viva magazine, says that while all 41 of the finalist collections were world-class, the winners stood out for their maturity and the articulation of their concept.  

“Finalists are pushing technology and innovation to their limits but what we loved about this year is that many are once again turning inwards to find the inspiration for their collections,” says Head Judge Tanya Carlson.

“Their backgrounds, the places they live, their cultural identity all play an important role in their design voices this year. It’s humbling to see how seriously they take the work they do and the collections they have created.”

 Tonight’s winners are:

  • H & J Smith First Place: Damir Begović, University of Zagreb, Croatia
  • Rodd & Gunn Second Place: Lisa Liu, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
  • Gallery De Novo Third Place: Katie Clarke, Manchester Metropolitan University, England
  • Rodd & Gunn Scholarship: Artur Stec, Cracow School of Arts and Fashion Design, Poland
  • Barbara Brinsley’s Carpe Diem Award: Jasper McGilvray, University of Westminster, England
  • Apparel Magazine’s Most Commercial Collection Prize: Gemma Cornish, Massey University, New Zealand
  • Foil Print Labels Ltd Entrepreneurial Prize: Rokaiya Ahmed Purna, BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology, Bangladesh
  • The Fabric Store Award For Excellence in Design: Misaki Oba, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
  • Cavalier Bremworth Wool Prize: Kenta Nishimura, Bunka Fashion Graduate University, Japan
  • Viva Editorial Prize: April Gourdie, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
  • Otago Polytechnic People’s Choice: Shreya Jain, National Institute of Fashion Technology, India

The 43 finalists – representing 19 countries from around the globe – were selected from a record 200 entries, travelling to Dunedin from their home countries. The two Emerging Shows, held last night and tonight at the Dunedin Town Hall took centre stage as the main show at this year’s reinvigorated iD Dunedin Fashion event, held from May 1-6 and funded by the Dunedin City Council.

Crowds were wowed by the extensive multi-level runway, alongside music by Anthonie Tonnon and dancing from the ODAPT Dance Group, while backstage, the L’Oreal New Zealand Makeup team, led by Director Lisa Matson and Klone Hair team, led by Principal hair stylist Karl Radel, created hair and makeup looks themed around gender fluidity – a concept explored in many of the finalist collections.

The show was produced by iD Dunedin Fashion Week Creative Director and Committee Chair Dr Margo Barton with her backstage team from the Otago Polytechnic and iD Artistic Director and event manager Sonja de Mari.


Amie Richardson