Vilcek Foundation Honors Innovative Fashion Curator and Young Designers of Promise

New York, NY, January 26, 2015 — The Vilcek Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the annual Vilcek Foundation Prizes, recognizing immigrant contributions to the American arts and sciences.  The Vilcek Prize in the Arts spotlights foreign-born artists with records of major achievement in their fields.  The Creative Promise Prizes in the Arts commend three younger immigrant artists—35 years of age or younger—who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the early stages of their careers.

The 2015 Vilcek Prize and Creative Promise Prizes in the Arts are awarded in the field of fashion.  Andrew Bolton will be honored with the $100,000 Vilcek Prize in Fashion.  The Creative Promise Prizes, which include awards of $50,000 each, will be presented to Siki Im, Natallia Pilipenka, and Tuyen Tran. 

“American arts are fueled by immigrant talent and energy, and fashion is not an exception,” says Marica Vilcek, vice president of the Vilcek Foundation.  “Fashion is no longer simply about the clothes we wear; it is an art form that reflects our culture.  Fashion professionals are not only setting trends, they are also active commenters on history, psychology, and other aspects of our civilization.  With the 2015 Vilcek Prizes for Fashion, we are excited to recognize all the different roles that fashion plays in our society, and the foreign-born individuals who are the leaders and future of the field.”

Andrew Bolton was chosen as the winner of the Vilcek Prize in Fashion for his curatorial work that elevates fashion as an art form.  Bolton is curator in the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  With a background in anthropology and non-Western art, he brings to his work an intellectual rigor balanced by an enthusiasm for the aesthetic beauty of fashion.  Since joining the museum in 2002, Bolton has curated 13 exhibitions (some in collaboration with Costume Institute Curator in Charge Harold Koda) and is responsible for one of the most highly attended exhibitions in the museum’s history, 2011’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.  Keen to enhance the accessibility of fashion while also reinforcing its importance as an art form, he is known for producing culturally relevant yet visually striking exhibitions.  Andrew Bolton was born in England.

Siki Im was selected as the winner of a Creative Promise Prize in Fashion for his menswear designs that draw inspiration from architecture, culture, politics, and psychology.  Im is the fashion designer behind SIKI IM, a line of luxury menswear, and DEN IM, a denim and basics extension line.  A former architect, he is interested in the intersections of culture, theory, and psychology within the design process.  Sold in stores worldwide, each of Im’s collections centers on a theme (from immigrants and xenophobia to The Lord of the Flies), which he researches in depth to build into a collection of draped, often unisex pieces.  He seeks to grow his company into a multi-focus creative design studio that also works in architecture and product design.  Siki Im was born in Germany to Korean immigrant parents.

Natallia Pilipenka was named winner of a Creative Promise Prize in Fashion for her fashion designs that mesh traditional craft with conceptual and cultural investigations.  Pilipenka is a designer based in New York.  A recent graduate of Parsons School of Design at the New School, earning an MFA in Fashion Design and Society, she approaches fashion through a conceptual and cultural lens.  Growing up in Belarus (then a part of the Soviet Union), Pilipenka learned from her parents how to sew, embroider, knit, and crochet; incorporating these craft techniques in modern ways has become integral to her designs.  She has taught in the BFA Fashion program at Parsons and won numerous awards, including the Umbria Cashmere District Award in 2014.  Natallia Pilipenka was born in Belarus to Ukrainian parents.

Tuyen Tran was picked as the winner of a Creative Promise Prize in Fashion for designs that fuse environmental awareness and everyday functionality with a modern, minimal aesthetic.  Tran is a fashion designer and a recent graduate of Parsons School of Design at the New School, earning a BFA in Fashion Design.  She views fashion as a form of functional product design: enabling movement, adapting to different environments, and potentially enhancing the wearer’s happiness.  Building on her strong foundation of menswear tailoring techniques, Tran’s graduate collection of womenswear perfected a capsule wardrobe of functional garments, which could be worn and layered in numerous ways; it was nominated for the Parsons Designer of the Year award.  Tuyen Tran was born in Vietnam.

The prizewinners were selected by panels of independent experts in the field of fashion.  All prizewinners will be honored at a ceremony in New York City in April 2015.

In addition to prizes in the arts, the Vilcek Foundation also awards prizes in the field of biomedical science.  The 2015 Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science will be awarded to Peter Walter, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at University of California, San Francisco.  The Vilcek Creative Promise Prizes in Biomedical Science will be awarded to Sun Hur, Rob Knight, and Franziska Michor.  For more information on the Vilcek Prizes, please visit

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