2009 March 18

Fringe Benefits

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(LONDON) Natalia Vodianova had a very good reason for missing Valentino's star-studded debut of his documentary last night--she was in London, celebrating the launch of Fashion Fringe at Covent Garden 2009. The bash at Tini, Knightsbridge was hosted by Donatella Versace, Colin McDowell and Vanity Fair and it drew top types like Jonathan Saunders, Claudia Schiffer, Jo Wood and more devoted to the organization's 2009 nationwide search for cutting-edge British design talent.

Versace is serving as this year's honorary chairperson, and her judging panel includes Natalie Massenet, CEO and founder of NET-A-PORTER.COM, Joshua Schulman, CEO of Jimmy Choo, Anne Pitcher, head of buying at Selfridges, Roy Peach, dean of MA Fashion at London College of Fashion, Antoni Burakowski, of Antoni and Alison and Paula Reed, fashion director of Grazia.“This is an initiative which I have had great interest in since it began in 2004," said Versace. "London has an unbeatable reputation as the originator of unique fashion talent, and it is very exciting for me to be personally involved in discovering and supporting that talent through the Fashion Fringe at Covent Garden platform."

The bash also celebrated the launch of Fashion Fringe at Covent Garden Accessories 2009.  The exciting new initiative is chaired by Tamara Mellon, founder and president of Jimmy Choo.  Five finalists will be selected to attend an interview with a judging panel; the winner will earn a 6-month apprenticeship at Jimmy Choo.

The Fashion Fringe at Covent Garden Virtual Road Show will begin on March 25, when McDowell will host a "Ladies' Night" to discuss the current fashion climate in London with the press as well as top buying teams. Expect appearances by Averyl Oates, buying director at Harvey Nichols, Dolly Jones, editor of, Lorraine Candy, editor-in-chief of Elle, Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou, editor-in-chief of 10 and 10+ magazines, Anne Pitcher, head of buying at Selfridges and Claudia Croft, fashion features director at The Sunday Times. A limited number of tickets to the event will go on sale on Wednesday, March 18 at

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