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Canadian designers Rad Hourani and Steven Tai short-listed for one of fashion’s top prizes

Models pose for the Rad Hourani show at Toronto Fashion Week on Friday March 16, 2012.

Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A swell of national pride was felt throughout Canada's fashion community as Rad Hourani and Steven Tai were among the seven finalists listed today for the 2014 ANDAM Fashion Prize. Now in its 25th year, ANDAM (Association Nationale pour le Développement des Arts de la Mode) is an initiative of the French Ministry of Culture, and counts longtime business partner of Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé, as its president. Martin Margiela was the first winner of the prestigious prize, and his iconic body of work continues to be coveted by the style-savvy.

Canadians can happily lay claim to both Hourani and Tai – Tai was born and raised in Vancouver, and Jordan-born Hourani moved to Montreal as a teenager. Though they have set up businesses in the fashion capitals of London and Paris, respectively, both designers have maintained a relationship with the country that helped shape their formative years. Tai has participated in the Toronto-based The Shows for several seasons, revealing his innovative collections to an eager and proud audience.

"As one of the younger brands of the group, I am extremely honoured to be part of such a talented roster of designers who are selected as the finalists for this year's ANDAM Award," said Tai when reached for comment only hours after the announcement was made. "The history and the calibre of professionals involved speaks volumes about the high level of standards of this competition. I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to present my work to such influential and respected individuals."

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World MasterCard Fashion Week, also held in Toronto, celebrated "Five Years of Rad Hourani" in 2012 with a blockbuster closing show that featured his darkly dramatic designs; Hourani also recently opened a gallery-shop in Montreal, and produces his ready-to-wear collections in the city.

ANDAM is no slouch when it comes to prize-giving. In addition to impressive monetary compensation (€250,000, or $370,400), the winner of this year's award will also receive a year of business mentorship from François-Henri Pinault, the CEO of Kering – the parent company of luxury brands ranging from Gucci to Balenciaga – and €10,000 of Swarovski crystals.

The boost from these brands is undeniably helpful to emerging designers like those nominated (Fausto Puglisi, Iris van Herpen, Yiqing Yin, Études Studio, and Jean-Paul Lespagnard round out the list), as is the opportunity to have their work judged by industry heavyweights like Condé Nast France president Xavier Romatet and iconic photographer Ellen Von Unwerth. The ANDAM jury will crown their new fashion star in July.

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