“I have learned a lot at Calvin Klein,” says its Vice President of Global Communications Malcolm Carfrae, “and the foundation is my way of giving back to an industry that has been good to me.” Mr Carfrae is, of course, referring to the Australians in New York Fashion Foundation [AINYFF], an organization he set up with a band of fellow sartorially-inclined expats, specifically film producer and previous executive editor of V magazine Julie Anne Quay, in 2009 as a way to promote Australian talent and lend a helping hand to a new generation of creatives trying to get their foot in the door that is the Big Apple.
“The priority is to provide first-hand international experience to the winners and runners up through contacts, internships and industry membership.” And given Mr Carfrae and Ms Quay’s enviable blackbook, in addition to the help of fellow board members Doll Wright of Ford Models and Harper’s Bazaar’s Brana Wolf and Laura Brown, it’s little winner that previous winners have found themselves at such design powerhouses as Calvin Klein (inaugural winner Georgia Lazzaro) and Proenza Schouler (second-year winner Laura Wade), and as assistant to the inimitable photographer Craig McDean (inaugural runner-up Simone Eeles). Industry placement is supplemented by a cash sponsorship of US$25,000. “The hope,” adds Mr Carfrae, “is that these young Australians will return [home] to enrich the fashion industry.”
The foundation’s youth is such that this vision is yet to take effect, but the mere running of AINYFF has a ripple effect throughout the industry, at once inspiring graduates to strive for success on an international level, but also helping to promote Australian creativity abroad. And it’s something that Mr Carfrae and his Australian cohorts are keen to build upon, earlier this year working with Woolmark, a division of Australian Wool Growers, to present ‘The Australian Five’ – a showcase of the collections of Kym Ellery, Christopher Esber, Fernando Frisoni, Michael Lo Sordo and Magdalena Velevska – at New York’s Crosby Street Hotel.
Entries for the 2013 AINYFF scholarship open in August. Visit ainyff.org for details.