NEW YORK, United States — The CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund’s newest crop of finalists include designers who have dressed former First Lady Michelle Obama, worked for Kanye West on his Yeezy line and partnered with 4 Ocean, an organization that removes trash from the sea.
On Monday, the CFDA and American Vogue announced the latest group of emerging New York and Los Angeles-based designers who will compete over the next several months in the 16th edition of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, established to foster the careers of emerging designers through mentorship from CFDA members, exposure through Vogue and cash prizes at a gala finale in November featuring a runway show in front of A-list names from fashion and Hollywood.
Previously this year, the CFDA announced that two new judges would join the selection committee this season, following online criticism in 2018 after an image of the judges posted by Instagram’s Eva Chen revealed limited diversity. The new additions are model, author and influencer Paloma Elsesser and Vogue’s Chioma Nnadi. They join the returning judges, which include Chen as well as designer Joseph Altuzarra, Vogue’s Mark Holgate, retailer Jeffrey Kalinsky, CFDA’s Steven Kolb, Saks Fifth Avenue’s Roopal Patel, Theory founder Andrew Rosen, designer Diane von Furstenberg and Condé Nast and Vogue’s Anna Wintour, who stepped down from the committee in 2017 but returned last year.
In November, the winning designer will receive $400,000 and two runners up will be awarded $150,000. Last year, Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss took the top prize, marking a breakout year for the outspoken designer. Jonathan Cohen and Emily Bode of Bode (who went on to win the 2019 CFDA Emerging Designer Award last month) were awarded the secondary prizes.
Some of American fashion’s most well-known names have won the top prize since it began, including Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang and Altuzarra. But in recent years, as the nature of the fashion business has made it more difficult for early stage designer brands to cut through the noise online and off, the groups of finalists have more often included names that failed to capture the zeitgeist.
The 2019 finalists have range of experience and focus points, from streetwear to sustainability and bridal. Natalie Ratabesi started Tre, her own womenswear line, after a two-decade long career working for John Galliano at Dior, Ralph Lauren and Kanye West’s Yeezy, among other labels. Christopher John Rogers, who graduated from SCAD in 2016, was chosen by Michelle Obama to design one of her looks for a book tour appearance in May. Abdul Abasi and Greg Rosborough launched their menswear label Abasi Rosborough in 2013, and have since been shortlisted for the 2017 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers and finalists for the CFDA + Lexus Fashion Initiative. And Hillary Taymour of Collina Strada launched her brand as a handbag line in 2008, and has since made a reputation for using fashion as a platform for social causes, such as sustainability (in partnership with non-profit 4 Ocean last season) and gender fluidity.
Read on for the list of finalists of the 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund:
Abdul Abasi and Greg Rosborough of Abasi Rosborough
Alejandra Alonso Rojas
Victor Barragan of Barragán
Christopher John Rogers
Hillary Taymour of Collina Strada
Danielle Hirsch of Danielle Frankel
Raffaella Hanley of Lou Dallas
Siying Qu and Haoran Li of Private Policy
Natalie Ratabesi of Tre by Natalie Ratabesi