The Council of Fashion Designers of America have put their backs and finances behind many of the fashion industry’s most valuable awards for emerging and established designers. But all of them have another thing in common — the list of talents who have passed through the program reads like an industry boys club, despite powerful women (including Anna Wintour and Diane von Furstenberg) dominating the panels. It’s not that the female talent isn’t there — around 85 percent of graduates at Parsons The New School for Design are female, yet of the under-30 success stories, there’s a definite dearth of vaginas.
So we’re stoked to see women bulking up the list of designers up for this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award. Now in its 10th year, the award gives promising young labels the chance to win mentoring from industry heavyweights plus some pretty serious dollars – $300,000 for the winner, and $100,000 for two runners-up. Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, Thom Browne, and Joseph Altuzarra have all taken out the top prize in the past. But this time there looks like a good change a woman will take out the prize.
Of the 14 designers announced last night (for their work with 10 labels,) there are six women and eight men — a much closer split than in previous years. Ryan Roche presented her eponymous debut collection for the women’s market this Fall 2014, Gigi Burris is making her mark with millinery, and eyewear legend Natalie Levy also got a nod for her work with Grey Ant.
But our bets are on Tanya Taylor, who has now had two of her dresses worn by discerning emerging design crusader Michelle Obama — who wore a sleeveless cocktail dress in Rainbow Scroll print from Taylor’s Spring 2014 her for a naturalization ceremony swearing in 50 new U.S. citizens in June (below), and a sleek white and blue floral print dress from the same collection to the LULAC/NUVOtv Unity Luncheon just a week ago (above.) Sick one, FLOTUS.
The winner will be announced on November 3rd, when the group will participate in a special design challenge and stage a runway show at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood.
The 2014 finalists are:
Brett Heyman, Edie Parker
Daniel Corrigan and Jake Sargent, Simon Miller
Eva Zuckerman, Eva Fehren
Gigi Burris, Gigi Burris Millinery
Matthew Orley, Alex Orley, and Samantha Florence, Orley
Natalie Levy and Grant Krajecki, Grey Ant
Paul Andrew, Paul Andrew
Ryan Roche, Ryan Roche
Tanya Taylor, Tanya Taylor
Wes Gordon, Wes Gordon