Nathalie Dufour

PARIS — Francesca Bellettini knows all about the importance of mentoring. A regular member of the ANDAM jury, the Yves Saint Laurent chief executive officer last year hired Anthony Vaccarello, a former winner of the annual fashion competition, to helm the Paris-based fashion house.

Now in its 28th edition, ANDAM will today name Bellettini as the designated mentor of this year’s winner of the main Fashion Award, and reveal that Hermès and Matchesfashion.com are joining the consortium of sponsors of the prize.

Nathalie Dufour, ANDAM founder and director, said the award has a track record of fostering European success stories. Vaccarello, who won in 2011, was mentored by Ralph Toledano, president of the fashion division at Puig, and executives such as François-Henri Pinault and Renzo Rosso have helped other winners.

Dufour noted that Bellettini would be the first female executive to take on the role. “She will bring a huge amount of prestige to this mentoring role, because people have a lot of admiration for Saint Laurent’s trajectory, both in image and commercial terms,” Dufour told WWD.

The mentorship spans one year of guidance on matters including financial, legal, marketing, communications and production.

“I am honored to be the official mentor of the 2017 ANDAM Fashion Award Edition, and this challenge is incredibly interesting to me. I am looking forward to encouraging new talents throughout their development, and I wish much success to all of the upcoming designers,” Bellettini said in a statement.

The winner will pocket a cash award of 250,000 euros, or $269,650 at current exchange rates. In addition to the main award is the First Collections Prize, valued at 100,000 euros, or $107,850, and the Accessories Award, which comes with a grant of 50,000 euros, or $53,925.

The organization is also introducing a new award, the Fashion Innovation Prize, endowed with 30,000 euros, or $32,350. It is aimed at designers, entrepreneurs or start-ups willing to develop innovative and technological solutions in France in the field of fashion design, production and distribution.

Dufour said the aim was to help young brands navigate digital change. “We are really going to identify technological innovations,” she said. “The digitalization of fashion is bringing about a transformation and we would like young European brands to benefit from it, so it will be like a networking platform.”

The prize is expanding its mentorship program in several ways to reflect these changes. Ruth Chapman, cofounder and co-executive chairman of Matchesfashion.com, will help the winner of the First Collections Prize for one year to define and implement their digital and communications strategy.

The team at Matchesfashion.com will meet with the Fashion Award finalists to provide digital and commercial advice, and the retailer will provide them with a window on its web site.

“In this, our 30th anniversary year, we are extremely excited to be joining with ANDAM to support new creativity and, as we expand our presence in France, we’re thrilled to be supporting French talent,” Chapman said in a statement.

Galeries Lafayette will buy the First Collections prize winner’s next two collections and help them develop a product and merchandising strategy aimed at department stores.

Meanwhile, the Accessories Award has been raised from 40,000 euros, or $43,300, to reflect the high cost of developing collections.

“We started with a small amount, but we are beginning to realize that an accessories brand requires significant investment to fund its development. It doesn’t cost any less than a fashion brand, in fact. It’s very complex,” Dufour noted.

“Accessories brands don’t have the same visibility as fashion brands because they don’t have a runway show and they are not attached to a ready-to-wear label. So we need to identify and support these accessories brands, especially since accessories have become a huge segment economically,” she added.

The Institut Français de la Mode, or IFM, is offering finalists of the First Collections and Accessories prizes access to a 12-month training program covering such topics as identity, supply chain, production, image and communication.

Hermès and Matchesfashion.com have joined a group of sponsors that includes Chanel, Chloé, the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Galeries Lafayette, Kering, Longchamp, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, MAC Cosmetics, Moncler, OTB, Swarovski, Tomorrow London and Yves Saint Laurent.

MAC Cosmetics, Swarovski, Tomorrow London and the Maison du Savoir-Faire et de la Création are also offering assistance, monitoring, mentorship and workshop access to winners and finalists.

The French acronym for the National Association for the Development of the Fashion Arts, ANDAM is welcoming applications from today until April 14, with the finalists revealed in May. Winners are to be revealed on June 30.

Founded in 1989 by Dufour with the support of the French government and with former YSL couture boss Bergé as president, ANDAM has been a springboard for an array of designers who would go on to achieve international recognition, including Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf, Christophe Lemaire and Jeremy Scott.

Awards, funds and initiatives aiding young designers have recently become an intense focus for Europe’s big luxury players and trade bodies, with LVMH in 2014 introducing an international prize involving business coaching.

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