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Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards

The 12th Annual Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue fund dinner was held in New York City at the on November 2nd.   November 2 at the Spring Studios in New York City the 12th annual the Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue fashion fund dinner was held. The fund awards money to the winner of a four month boot camp, during which the finalists give up their whole life to Vogue and the CFDA in exchange for a chance to win $400,000 and a year of mentorship. The runner-ups win $150,000.

The CFDA is a not-for-profit trade association of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry and accessory designers. The mission of the Council of Fashion Designers of America is to strengthen the influence and success of American Fashion Designers in the global economy.  

2015 CFDA Fashion Awards Announcement Party


Winning an award from the CFDA is a huge honor and a pivotal moment in any designer’s career. The board chairman is Diane Von Furstenberg, who is arguably the greatest and most influential women’s wear designer of all time. Her and her council, which includes legendary designers Michael Kors and Vera Wang, appoint awards such as designer of the year, best menswear of the year and best accessories of the years.

Some of the highlights from this years awards shows were Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, designers of the Row, winning women’s wear designers of the year, and Tom Ford winning menswear designer of the year.

"Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen" Getty Images

“Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen” Getty Images

But what is really important is winning the CFDA/Vogue fashion fund. Usually there is one winner, but this year the hosts, Amanda Seyfried and Riccardo Tisci, creative director of Givenchy, designer of Balmain and inspirational designer of the year, surprised the crowd by announcing there would be three winners. Each winner will receive $300,000 each and a year’s mentorship instead of the usual one winner and three runner-ups.

The three winners this year were Aurora James of Brother Vellies, Jonathan Simkhai and Rio Uribe of Gypsy Sport. The decision to award three winners was decided that morning by the president Steven Kolb. Kolb told the CFDA council, “There was a point last week where we were like, ‘We don’t know who’s going to win this,’”  “So the idea of rethinking the winners was something we began to consider but we didn’t know until this morning that we would actually do it.”

The winner who inspired me the most this year was James from Brother Vellies. James produces her collections in Africa, employing people who desperately needs jobs and gives back to the people in Africa. When she accepted her award she urged the people in the room “to really involve Africa in the conversation instead of just taking inspiration from them.” That was a remark directed towards Valentino, whose 2016 Fall collection gathered inspiration from African tribes, in which the designers themselves were white, and most of the models were as well.

The Goal of Brother Vellies was to take the traditional African style of shoes, with refurbished fur, and to have the shoes made in South Africa, Kenya and Morocco.

Brother Vellies Spring 2016 Presentation

Brother Vellies Spring 2016 Presentation

Uribe who makes Gypsy Sport tries to make high fashion sports clothing for people of all sizes. “I started Gypsy Sport to make something that was more inclusive of people who were different sizes, different colors, different races,” Uribe said. “Whatever it is. People have started opening doors for me and I feel like I can open doors for others.”


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