To formally celebrate the successes of the ACF and to recognise and reward talent, the ACF held its annual Awards Gala at the Intercontinental Hotel Jinan on the evening of Day 1 of the Jinan in Style International Fashion Week. Starting at 7pm, guests were welcomed with cocktails and the chance to network and chat about the days' events and reflect on the stunning couture from both Guo Pei and SONGZIO. At 7.30 pm, the doors opened to the main ballroom. A palpable gasp arose as guests made their way into the flower festooned room - a floral cornucopia of dazzling reds, yellows and oranges. Once sat, the MC welcomed the assembled guests to the ACF Awards Gala and invited Dr. Frank Cintamani, Founding President to the stage. Extending a warm welcome and sincere thanks, Dr. Cintamani, expressed the views of everyone when he set out the importance and significance of bringing the very best of Asia's couture talent to Jinan.
With formalities over, the sumptuous eight-course meal was served. Each course took inspiration from the scenery, mountains, architecture and springs of Jinan with the first dish aptly named 'Jinan in Style'. Under a canopy of seasonal flowers, guests enjoyed fine wines and relaxing music. The ACF Awards Gala is a keynote event for the ACF and an opportunity to not only reflect on its achievements but to also recognise those who have made an outstanding contribution to the ACF and the couture industry. With that in mind, Dr. Frank Cintamani, Founding President, and Ms. Emily Hwang, Vice President of the ACF were invited to the stage for the first part of the ACF Awards.
The first award was to Paul Vasileff and his brand Paolo Sebastian. As a young boy, Paul Vasileff’s grandmother introduced him the fine art of hand-sewing. From that point, his passion for couture was clear. Indeed, at only 17 years old, the Adelaide based designer established his couture house - Paolo Sebastian. A young design prodigy, Paul is largely self-taught, but completed formal study at the European Institute of Design in Milan. Despite his relative youth, Paul has established himself as not only Australia's premier couturier but also one of the most acclaimed of his generation. He has presented across the world from Sydney to London and Adelaide to Paris. He is a firm favourite with celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Sonam Kapoor and Katy Perry. He has collaborated on two collections with Disney including Once Upon a Dream collection and his recent Elements collection, which was inspired by Frozen 2.
Since first inviting Paul Vasileff and his label to be an Invited Member of the ACF, he has continued to demonstrate exceptional artistry, creativity and craftsmanship. Indeed, such talent has been recognised by his being awarded Young Australian of the Year. The ACF has likewise been delighted at the continuing success of this young designer and was therefore delighted to formally promote him to International Couturier Extraordinare. This is one of the ACF's highest accolades and it is one, which is well deserved.
This was followed by a key appointment for the ACF, that of Jack Cao, Governor of China being appointed as Chief Governor. A businessman as well as Guo Pei's husband, Jack has been a formidable force behind this Chinese couture powerhouse. The CEO of Rose Studio Fashion Co since 1997, he is responsible for making his wife's designs a global fashion business as well as championing China's acumen for couture and bespoke creativity in the past two decades. A spokesperson and a key driving enabler of Guo Pei's couture house across the world, he is an accomplished advocate for Chinese creativity and craftsmanship. Jack has been a key supporter of the Asian Couture Federation since its inception in 2013. He has been invaluable in building networks and relationships, which have seen the ACF, undertake many projects across the region. As such, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the ACF, he was duly appointed as Chief Governor. In this role, Jack Cao assumes the most senior responsibility for the Governor's Committee and ensures a coordinated approach from its membership.
Setting a change of tempo, the focus of the dinner shifted to the decor. Designed by world-renowned floral artist, Mrs. Ching Kao she took to the stage to explain the ideas and motivation behind her stunning creativity for the evening's floral decoration. Inspired by Jinan's title of 'Shanhe Lake Spring City', Mrs. Ching explained how the flowers emulate and represent the flowing waters, the ripples on the lakes and the cascading waterfalls. Each element brought to life through the carefully selected and curated flowers that had been chosen and crafted into undulating and spreading works of floral art. Not surprisingly. Mrs. Ching's passionate discourse received a round of applause from the audience.
The second part of the ACF Awards was a seminal one for the ACF. The ACF has long recognised the importance of partners and individuals who have contributed to the success of the ACF in delivering its projects and initiatives. As such, these Patron of the Arts Awards are given on a select basis. This year, the ACF was delighted to present such an award to the Jinan Daily Newspaper Group. The Jinan Daily Newspaper Group is one of the most respected newspapers and media outlets in China. It is known for the quality of its publications and business practices. The group has established a diversified development strategy with the newspaper industry as its main focus. They have been very supportive of the Jinan in Style International Fashion Week and their coverage will help to ensure the values of heritage, creativity and artistry that both the ACF and Jinan represents will be reported to millions of people. Accordingly, Mr. Zi Yan, representative of the Jinan Daily Newspaper Group collected the award from Dr. Frank Cintamani and Ms. Emily Hwang.
While it is the ACF that usually bestows awards, this evening was somewhat different. The Jinan Municipal Culture and Tourism Bureau took some time in the evening to recognise the contribution made by Dr. Frank Cintamani, through his efforts with the Asian Couture Federation and the Jinan in Style International Fashion Week to raise the profile of Jinan, by making him a 'Jinan Culture and Tourism Image Ambassador'. As part of the ceremony, a representative of the Jinan Cultural & Tourism Bureau, Ms. Hou Jing explained the importance of raising the awareness of Jinan to a global audience and thanked Dr. Frank Cintamani for his efforts before presenting him with this prestigious award. In usual style, the evening ended with a group photo of all ACF members, as well as award winners and proved to be a fitting tribute to the success of Day 1 of the Jinan in Style International Fashion Week.