ManneqArt is a Non-Profit Organization for Education in the Arts, in which focus is placed on “bringing Wearable Art to the attention of the American public.” During my interview with founder, Lee Anderson, I learned many important details about ManneqArt, its competition, and awards.

Hundreds of people apply for the competition each year, although only 80 applicants are accepted. This contest is open to college students, high school students, and middle school students; anyone else across the United States who wishes to create original designs is encouraged to participate even if they have never designed before.

There are only four basic rules:

  1. The design must be able to be worn by a live person; if a design is glued to a mannequin, it can be displayed but will not qualify for the competition.
  2. The design must not include any items that would injure a model, such as sharp objects.
  3. The design must allow movement for models to travel up and down stairs; this is also a safety concern. However, designs do not have to allow models the ability to sit or use the bathroom.
  4. Designs must be all ages appropriate.

Every year, ManneqArt presents four new themes for artists and designers to base their creations upon. This year, the themes were Nature, Literature, Art, and Architecture. Designers are encouraged to use non-traditional materials. For those who have never done this kind of designing before, Lee suggests buying a bra, and using it as a starting point. The designs are transported to several different events, photoshoots, and are worn on multiple occasions by models, so the design needs to have strong shoulder support so that the garment can be more easily transported and displayed.

Once the 80 applicants have been selected, a panel consisting of 9 judges gathers to choose up to 10 award winners. Lee Anderson does not participate as a judge since she provides help to contestants by assisting them with technical aspects. However, Stevenson University’s Fashion Design Department Coordinator, Sally DiMarco, has been invited for several years to be a member on the panel. Her expertise in draping and garment construction allows her to be an excellent judge.

The total prize money for the 10 awards given out is approximately $10,000. The breakdown by award:

College award: $500

High School award: $300

Middle School award: $200

Theme award (1 award for each theme): $1,000

Stevenson University award: $500

Imagine Artwear award: $1,000

Over-All award: $3,000

The Over-All award winner, Robert Reed, from Honolulu Hawaii, for his “OMGEODE! DIAMOND IN THE FLUFF,” will be teaching a Wearable Art Workshop at the Renwick in February or March of 2016. The exact date has not yet been confirmed; please check back for updates.

Additionally, all 80 applicants get to have their design professionally photographed by Irvin Simon Photographers, located in Baltimore. At the photoshoot, Irvin Simon’s team provides the backdrop, as well as hair and makeup stylists. Each award winner receives digital copies of their photoshoot for free!

Every fall an Awards Ceremony is held for the winners; this year’s ceremony will be held at the Renwick Museum in the Smithsonian in DC on Tuesday, November 17th from 6pm to 8pm. This event has sold out.

Alumna, Rahima Dondurur, submitted her entire Senior Collection to the ManneqArt competition. All five pieces were accepted and her design, “Oak, Ash, and Thorn” won the Stevenson University award. Rahima’s award-winning design was inspired by the myth of Merlin. In addition to fabric, she used several non-traditional materials, such as wood, leaves, lights, and moss. Rahima stated that, “The program has provided me with advanced technical crafting and sewing skills that are an essential base to creative processes. Without them, the work I would desire to make would be lacking professional and real structure, and with them, I have been able to extend my artistic abilities greatly. This would also not be possible without my supportive peers and the Stevenson faculty members who have helped me grow greatly as an artist.”

To learn more about ManneqArt please check out their site: and to see the photo gallery of this years accepted applicants please go to: