The Fashion Designers Council of America on Monday awarded its top fashion awards to Gabriela Hearst for womenswear and Kerby Jean-Raymond for menswear. The two designers led a group of winners that the CFDA said was the most diverse in the 39-year history of the awards. It was the second honor in two days for Jean-Raymond, prominent black founder of the Pyer Moss brand, who was also named Harlem’s Fashion Row Designer of the Year in a virtual ceremony on Sunday.
The CFDA winners also included Telfar Clemens, who won the Accessories Award, and Christopher John Rogers, who won the Award for Emerging American Designer. All four were winners for the first time. There was no acceptance speech in a video ad that lasted less than 10 minutes, but Hearst released a statement in which she sent “a kiss” to Uruguay, where she was born, and greeted fellow nominees as well as designers around the world, many of whom are struggling to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic. “We’re all in the same boat,” Hearst said.
The designer is known for his stylish attire, such as a teal pantsuit modeled by new US Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2018 in Interview magazine. The jacket was nicknamed Angela, after black activist Angela Davis. Brooklyn-based Jean-Raymond, who started working in fashion as a teenager, founded Pyer Moss in 2013. He placed the African-American experience at the center of his craft and gained sudden fame with a 2015 fashion show which started with a lengthy video about police brutality against black people.
He recently said that racism has become more evident since the 2016 election. “We are digging things up now. We realize we had outside racists among us in the fashion industry, ”he told the Washington Post in June. “You see pictures now, you see blackface parties… the kind of stuff we endured as young designers, a lot of those things were secret.”
Following Monday’s announcement, Jean-Raymond posted a brief Instagram video showing him opening the box containing his silver trophy and winking at his followers.
In two new categories, the International Female Designer Award went to Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino, and the International Male Designer Award went to Kim Jones for Dior.
Clemens, the accessory design winner, was born to Liberian parents in New York City. He founded his unisex brand, Telfar, while still a student at Pace University. Famous for his popular Telfar “shopping bags”, he is the 2017 CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund winner.
Rogers, who won the Emerging Designer Award, won the Fashion Fund award last year. He is known for his exaggerated silhouettes, often in bright neon colors. “My friends and family encourage me to manifest my singular American dream,” he wrote on Instagram, “and I think it’s increasingly important to emphasize that uniqueness and clarity of vision, especially today.
The awards were announced by designer Tom Ford, CFDA president and also current nominee, in a brief video announcement on Runway360, the organization’s new digital platform. They were originally scheduled to be presented, as usual, in a lavish ceremony in June, but the event was canceled due to the pandemic.
On Sunday night, Harlem’s Fashion Row, which supports and promotes designers of color, handed out its own style awards with a virtual event also highlighting three collections, designers Richfresh, Kimberly Goldson and Kristian Lorén. Along with Jean-Raymond, the winners were Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Publicist Nate Hinton and British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful.
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