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Bottega Veneta's Charitable Turn... Customs Crack Down...

Palm Beach didn’t let a drizzly day stand in the way of raising money — with Bottega Veneta to boot.

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OSCAR GOWN COUNTDOWN: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences set its third annual Oscars Designer Challenge into motion Tuesday at its headquarters in Beverly Hills with a fashion show introducing nine designers competing to have their custom gowns worn by a statuette presenter at the Academy Awards on February 27. Designers Angela Avanesyan, Octavio Carlin, Katelyn Bischof, Miriam Cecilia Carlson, Borris Powell, James De Colón, Natalia Romano, Clay Sadler and Zoe Hong were selected by an academy committee through sketch submissions, then given two weeks to independently produce their dresses, without funding from the academy.

The public can view and vote for the gowns on oscar.com until Feb. 21, as well as watch a Web series that chronicles the competition from sketch selection and model casting to the runway show. The hopefuls, based in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Oakland, Calif., range from recent fashion school grads to veteran designers selling their lines at Saks Fifth Avenue and boutiques around the country.

Two finalists from last year’s competition went on to find additional notoriety — Ivy Higa competed in season eight of “Project Runway” and Oday Shakar designed the red carpet dress worn by Sandra Bullock to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. This year’s winner will receive two tickets to the Oscars.

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