>> Last night, with the help of keynote speaker Alber Elbaz, who doled out gems on the perils of success — "It's like a bottle of perfume. You smell it, you don't sniff it or drink it" — Alaia veteran and Michelle Obama favorite Sophie Theallet took home the 2009 Vogue/Fashion Fund prize of $200,000 and a year of mentoring. Fellow nominees Patrik Ervell and Monique Pean were named runners-up, and received $50,000 each plus a business mentor.
In her speech, Anna Wintour said that in addition to the US, Italy, and the UK — which just started a similar talent-nurturing program — she just met with the French minister of culture about mirroring the contest there. "And Brazil, India, Russia, and China aren't far behind."
"The money and the mentoring will help Ms. Theallet because she needs to be able to offer more range in her collection, as well as expand her production options. She has such a distinctly feminine eye, and the skills, that I’ve often wondered why a big retailer doesn’t ask Ms. Theallet to design some blouses and summer dresses for them, using the store’s resources and manufacturing connections."