The night before the midterm elections the winds of change were blowing through the halls of Casa Cipriani on South Street at the tip of Manhattanbuzzing about the step and repeat of celebrity entries at the 67th Annual Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards, more colloquially known as “the Oscars of fashion.”
Drake was passed over, attending as a friend of Chrome Hearts; beyond the entire Kardashian clan, there to support Kim, who was receiving Amazon’s Innovation Award for Skims along with her co-founders, Jens and Emma Grede; past Trevor Noahone presenter, in blue velvet and Keke Palmer, another presenter, in blue floral balloons.
The dress code may have been “Archival American,” but there’s a new generation of American designers on the rise: designers who aren’t interested in looking back, designers who took nontraditional routes to the runway and who don’t necessarily They have a lot to do with old fashion. rules and traditions. And the annual awards, which for years seemed mired in a miasma of déjà vu, with the same names nominated and winning year after year, have finally caught up with the change. Not least in terms of diversity.
“There are a lot of black people in this room, so you better give me some energy,” said Law Roach, resplendent in polka dots and overwhelmed with emotion, after accepting the inaugural Hairstylist of the Year award from Kerry Washington. , who took to the stage in a blazer and frilly micro shorts.
Patti Wilson, resplendent under a gold-metal Schiaparelli helmet as she received the media award, said it was a marked change from the years when she was “the only person of color” in almost any Fashion room.
In fact, half of the awards went to designers of color, and only one of the winners, Emily Adams Bode Aujla, who was named menswear designer of the year, repeated. (She won the menswear accolade last year and, in 2019, the emerging designer of the year.) Catherine Holstein from Khaite won the womenswear award and was so shocked that she said she couldn’t speak and quickly walked off the stage.
If there was a theme of the night, it was the fashion promise of the American dream, with the promise of the increasingly threatened American melting pot bubbling underneath.
Roach, for example, told the story of accompanying Zendaya to the CFDAs in 2016 as their stylist, watching from the kitchen as waiters ran past with trays of food and promising himself that one day he’d be onstage too, and there he was. “Somewhere there’s a gay black kid in the ghetto,” he said, when told that he wasn’t going to amount to anything, and that he was there to tell that kid that “anything is possible.”
Raúl López de Luar, who won the accessory designer of the year award for a bag created in honor of his grandmother and mother, called himself the “son of two immigrants from the Dominican Republic who were not allowed to attend Fashion school because he was too gay” but had nonetheless snuck into the Parsons and FIT libraries to learn his trade.
Elena Vélez, the year’s emerging designer, who works in New York and Milwaukee, spoke about being raised by a single mother who was a boat captain on the Great Lakes and about the need to expand the notion of where, exactly, fashion can beyond the coastal capitals of New York and Los Angeles.
Kardashian, who received her award from Martha Stewart (who confessed to being a Skims client), spoke about the importance of size inclusion and called on the industry to do better, to think of “size equality as an accessory.” and not as a trend. a comment was met with a few raised eyebrows given his own remarkable weightloss.
And so it was: Phillip Lim called on the audience to vote and “join us in the fight for democracy” after receiving the award for Positive Social Influence as part of a group called “Slaysians.” The group also includes fashion experts. Prabal GurungLaura Kim, Tina Leung and Ezra William, and worked during the pandemic to combat the growing hatred against Asians.
“Don’t forget to vote, don’t forget to vote,” chanted former CFDA president Stan Herman before presenting pioneering black designer Jeffrey Banks with his special anniversary award.
Backstage before the show started, Chrome Hearts’ Laurie Lynn Stark was sitting with cher, and said that she and her husband and co-founder, Richard Stark, were “shocked” when they got the call to win the Lifetime Achievement Award. They had never thought, she said, that they “would fit that mold,” “that mold” being the whole business of established fashion.
Well, Cher said, when it came to Chrome Hearts’ biker style, “it took a long time for people to catch up. A lot of people didn’t get it at first.” Sometimes you have to break the mold to remake it: Cher herself, decked out in black Chrome Hearts leather with heavy buckles, is a case in point.
(She was matched in the leather stakes only by Lenny Kravitz, wearing LaQuan Smith, who received his Style Icon award for Bradley Cooperwho gave him a big hug and assured that there was no one else “alive today who wears leather and leopard like Lenny”).
For her part, Stark wore a sheer, strapless dress that she said was the first couture dress she had ever designed. He did it, he said, in memory of Virgil Abloh, the Off-White and Louis Vuitton menswear designer who died unexpectedly last November and who “always encouraged me to make couture dresses.”
Although he had been nominated numerous times for CFDA Awards during his lifetime, Abloh never won. In recognition of his contributions to fashion, the council awarded him posthumous recognition in the form of a special award from the Board of Trustees.
Aurora James, designer of Brother Vellies, presented the silver statuette to his widow, Shannon Abloh, saying abloh it had forever changed the definition of “who gets to be a fashion designer”.
And if the people in the room had learned anything from her life, she continued, it’s that the goal shouldn’t be to try to fill her remaining shoes, but rather to “completely reimagine walking.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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