One of the wonderful things about being in business awhile is having the opportunity to watch our annual events grow and evolve. For no client is this more true than the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards, which honors and incubates hardworking new designers. This coveted award is one of the most influential in the industry, and the $300,000 prize has enabled the designers to evolve from “emerging” to “established.”
When we first got the call to host this event at Skylight Soho in 2004, we had been open for less than a month, but Vogue’s Anna Wintour has an eye for new talent, and we are happy to say her discerning eye found us immediately. This was a new event for everybody: for CFDA, for Vogue, for Raul Avila, an amazing new event designer who had just embarked on his own after many years under the tutelage of the late Robert Isabell, and of course, for Skylight. Led by Vogue’s now-iconic events team, the inimitable Stephanie Winston-Wolkoff (now the head of New York Fashion Week) and the indefatigable Holly Lemkau Doran (who currently heads up events for Bloomberg), the team came together to realize an award show vision where style was paramount and where fashion careers would be launched. We all rolled up our sleeves and got the job done, creating a beautiful backdrop upon which to bestow the inaugural award to the young Parsons students Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, and then we watched their star rise and rise. Proenza Schouler is now a household name.
Seven years later, the CFDA/Vogue Awards are the Oscars of fashion, Raul is a renowned event designer, and Skylight Soho has established itself as the venue for the world’s most noteworthy events. But what remains new and fresh each year is the emerging fashion talent—hardworking designers who are still cutting their own patterns, sleeping in their studios, and rolling racks up Seventh Avenue. This is the evening where their lives will forever change; where they are welcomed into the fold by Anna, Calvin, Diane and Donna; where they find the funds to make their dreams a real business.
So on November 14th, when the fashion industry, the media, and of course, dozens of celebrities came together at Skylight Soho to induct Joseph Altuzarra into the big leagues, we had no doubts that this signaled that his time had arrived—we have seen it before. But doing something over and over can make it only more fascinating, more profound because you are invested in the narrative, in the team, and in the evolution. To Joseph, to runners-up Pamela Love and Creatures of the Wind’s Shane Gabier and Chris Peters, and to all the finalists: we can’t wait to see where you go from here. Congratulations.