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Welcome to Trieste, the tiny Italian city that shapes the world's wardrobe

updated 4:54 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Trieste plays host to the International Talent Support contest
  • The awards celebrate the most promising new talent in fashion design
  • So, which of these young pretenders will be the next big thing?

Trieste, Italy (CNN) -- Nudging the border with Slovenia in Italy's far north-east, the mysteriously underrated city of Trieste is largely known for its stately, Habsburg-era architecture, exquisite coffee, and traditional regattas.

But for a few days every year in July, it's also one of the most important places on the planet to discover the next best thing in the world of fashion design.

Since launching in 2002, the International Talent Support (ITS) contest has invited students from 70 countries -- spanning a network of nearly 1000 schools and universities -- to compete for a breadth of awards, celebrating not just clothes, but jewelery, accessories and, for the first time this year, art.

In doing so, it's become a ganglion for industry honchos who, if they're not otherwise adjudicating the awards, can be found trawling the vast exhibition hall for indications of the next Prada, Versace or McQueen.

"This is all about young creativity," says ITS director Barbara Franchin. "They're the future, so of course we must offer them friendship and support."

Being a fashion event, no one is ever more than a few feet away from a poised camera-phone, and so the highlights are a dish best served on social media...

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