CFDA Fashion Awards 2020: ‘Most diverse’ winners in event’s 39-year history

Written by Ana Rosado, CNN

The organizer of one of fashion’s most prestigious award programs has called this year’s recipients the “most diverse group” of winners in the event’s 39-year history.
Often dubbed the “Oscars of Fashion,” the CFDA Fashion Awards honored a number of prominent Black designers at an online ceremony Monday night, including Haitian-American Kerby Jean-Raymond, who took home the coveted American Menswear Designer of the Year.

Runway looks from Kerby Jean-Raymond’s label, Pyer Moss, at New York Fashion Week in 2019. Credit: Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images

Other figures recognized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) include New York-based Christopher John Rogers, who has dressed the likes of Michelle Obama and was named American Emerging Designer of the Year. Liberian-American designer Telfar Clemens meanwhile won Accessory Designer of the Year after gaining a cult-like following for his signature bags, one of which was famously sported by congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Capitol Hill.

But while Black designers accounted for three of the evening’s six winners, there were just six BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) figures among the 30-strong nominee list.

Elsewhere, American Womenswear Designer of the Year — the night’s most sought-after award — went to Uruguayan-born Gabriela Hearst, a champion of sustainable practices. Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli won International Womenswear Designer of the Year, and Kim Jones, who has just been named Karl Lagerfeld’s successor at Italian label Fendi, won International Men’s Designer of the Year.

A look by Christopher John Rogers, who was named American Emerging Designer of the Year.

A look by Christopher John Rogers, who was named American Emerging Designer of the Year. Credit: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

Originally scheduled for June, the prestigious awards ceremony was initially postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers instead opted for a virtual show to coincide with New York Fashion Week, which kicked off Sunday night. The number of award categories was also reduced from 11 to six, with the CFDA this year focusing solely on designers, rather than models or other industry figures.

“Not having a gala allows us to focus on supporting designers during the global pandemic and redirecting our efforts towards scholarships and bringing racial equity to fashion,” said CFDA chairman and designer, Tom Ford, via an announcement on Runway360, a digital platform being used to host a number of fashion week events.

This year’s recipients join an illustrious list of previous winners that includes Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera and Rick Owens. Last year, Brandon Maxwell and founders of The Row, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, took home top prizes, while Jennifer Lopez was presented with the Fashion Icon Award.

Top image caption: A model walks the Pyer Moss runway during New York Fashion Week in 2019.