The months of competition for the the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund has finally concluded last Monday; a winner has already been declared for 2018. Pyer Moss, or more specifically, its designer and founder Kerby Jean-Raymond, spent the night at the Brooklyn Navy Yard victorious after being announced the winner, a reward much deserved after competing with nine other notable designers in a series of branding exercises and design challenges. Awarded by Emily Blunt, the fund entitles Jean-Raymond to a US$400,000 cash prize and a year of unparalleled fashion mentorship. Jean-Raymond joins the ranks of previous winners who have now catapulted to fame and acclaim, among them Alexander Wang, Joseph Altuzarra, and Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough.
Jean-Raymond’s win is timely especially since the discourse regarding race, inclusivity and representation has never been discussed as much as we do now. In his work with his brand Pyer Moss, he has exalted black culture, his latest Spring collection just one of a string of presentations that earned him the accolades and admiration of notable people in the industry. But despite the good year (or years, even) that preceded this night, Jean-Raymond found the award completely unexpected. The audience gave him a standing ovation while he was en route to accepting the honor, implying that his being given the award is anticipated by everyone else but him.
Pyer Moss is more than a brand that has gained a list of ardent celebrity fans such as Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Tiffany Haddish. It is also a label unafraid to intertwine fashion with social issues, rather than being in a bubble separated from the rest. Since the brand’s founding in 2013, it has encouraged dialogues on racism and police brutality, topics which are sadly still relevant in 2018. Jean-Raymond even designed a Black Lives Matter collection, although it is in the possession of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Pyer Moss, mostly a menswear brand since its inception, has introduced its first womenswear collection earlier this year which was received generously. Its Spring 2019 collection is considered among the New York Fashion Week’s best shows when it took place back in September.
Two other designers did not leave the event empty-handed. Emily Adams Bode and Jonathan Cohen ended the race as runners-up, taking home U$150,000 each. Both have also built quite a standing in the industry, with Bode praised for her commitment to sustainability and Cohen for his unique work with prints and textures. Among the other competitors in the talented bunch include Scosha, Matthew Adams Dolan, Batsheva, Hunting Season, Christian Cowan, Luar, and Rebecca de Ravenel.
Anna Wintour, Vogue EIC and Condé Nast Artistic Director, led this year’s panel of judges which include Nicole Phelps, Diane von Furstenberg, Joseph Altuzarra, Eva Chen, Steven Kolb, Roopal Patel, Jeffrey Kalinsky, Andrew Rosen and Mark Holgate. Wintour expressed her admiration of this year’s finalists, who have shown unmatched creativity and desire for a community.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images, Neil Rasmus/BFA.com, lex Webb of Magnum Photos, Vogue, Evan Agostini/Invision, via Associated Press