By  on May 17, 2007

NEW YORK — In years past, the National Design Award for Fashion has tended to go to designers who aren't afraid to go off the beaten path, and Rick Owens, this year's winner, is no exception.

The Paris-based, Southern California-bred designer will pick up the prize from the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum at its annual gala on Oct. 18.

In addition to designing a signature collection, Owens is artistic director for the French fur house Revillon. He beat out Phillip Lim and Narciso Rodriguez for this year's fashion award, the latter a three-time finalist.

While the NDA is in its eighth year, fashion only became a category in 2003, when Tom Ford took home the top prize. Save for him, the annual honor has favored more away-from-the-fray designers including Maria Cornejo, Yeohlee Teng and the husband-and-wife team of Isabel and Ruben Toledo.

Owens, the 2002 CFDA Perry Ellis award winner for emerging talent, is known for his glamour-meets-Goth designs and unpredictable initiatives. He recently teamed up with underground director Bruce LaBruce to place his designs in an upcoming horror flick. This fall, while the Paris ready-to-wear runway shows are under way, his furniture collection will be shown at Jousse Enterprise gallery.

"My look is about an appreciation of teenage angst without actually having the angst," Owens has said.

Established to promote excellence in design, the NDA will also recognize book jacket designer Chip Kidd for communications design; the Boston-based firm Office dA for architecture design; Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis for interior design; Peter Walker for landscape design; Apple Inc.'s Jonathan Ive for product design; Adobe Systems Inc. for corporate achievement, and Venturi, Scott and Brown Assoc. for design mind. In addition, a lifetime achievement award will be presented to architect Antoine Predock and a special jury commendation will be given to author Francis D.K. Ching.

For the first time, this year's NDA jury will discuss how they decided on the winners at a roundtable tonight at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Teng and Tim Gunn, Liz Claiborne's new chief creative director, are among the jury members. Target will once again sponsor the NDA, as well as the second annual National Design Week, Oct. 14 to 20.

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