On Monday, fashion’s best and brightest will gather at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City to celebrate the 37th annual Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards. Dubbed the “Oscars of Fashion,” the CFDAs are the highest honors awarded in the American fashion industry, recognizing outstanding achievements in design, journalism, personal style and positive change.
This year’s ceremony will be hosted by fashionable funny girl Issa Rae, who famously quipped, “I’m rooting for everybody black” on the 2017 Emmy Awards red carpet. With that in mind, here are the talents we’re rooting for on Monday night.
Virgil Abloh has had a major year, to say the least. In December, the Chicago-born designer earned a 2017 British Fashion Award for Urban Luxe Brand for founding fashion’s cult-favorite label, Off-White. In February, he debuted a collaboration with luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo. In March, Abloh was named artistic director of menswear for Louis Vuitton. In April, he was one of only two designers on Time’s list of “Most Influential People,” immediately followed by the announcement of a collection with Ikea.
After being nominated for an Emerging Talent award at last year’s CFDAs, this year, Abloh is up for both Womenswear and Menswear Designer of the Year awards, cementing his status as perhaps the most exciting and in-demand designer currently in our midst.
Speaking of emerging talents, this year, two black designers are contending for the career-making Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent: Aurora James, for Brother Vellies, and Kerby Jean-Raymond, for Pyer Moss.
Brother Vellies, James’ line of shoes and accessories, is both fashionable and philanthropic; all of her shoes are handmade in Africa, from which she draws inspiration and where she employs and trains local women. The Toronto native and 2015 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner is the first black woman to ever be nominated for the coveted Emerging Talent award, and doesn’t take the honor lightly, telling Essence:
I feel the weight of making sure that we’re not just represented but well-represented in this industry. And when it comes to my brand, it’s really not about me at all—it’s about the women who create this amazing product.
Kerby Jean-Raymond’s 5-year-old menswear label, Pyer Moss, has become as known for making political statements as for its fashion statements. His runway shows are regularly infused with social commentary, like his 2018 Fall/Winter presentation in February, which was a unisex celebration of blackness titled, “American, Also,” and featuring an all-black cast of models and a gospel choir singing music arranged by Raphael Saadiq.
With forthcoming collaborations with both Reebok and a recently reinvigorated Cross Colours, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-born designer may soon become a household name in addition to being a high-fashion favorite.
British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful isn’t competing for a CFDA Award this year but will be honored with a well-deserved Media Award at this year’s ceremony. At only age 18, the former model and fashion stylist became fashion director of British fashion magazine i-D, during which time he was partially credited with popularizing the “grunge” fashion trend.
Enninful would remain in that position for the next two decades, also acting as a consultant to designers and advertisers alike and as contributing fashion editor to both American and Italian Vogue, creating the famed 2008 Black issue for the latter. Eventually he’d step into the role of fashion and style director at W magazine.
In 2014, Enninful was awarded an Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator at the British Fashion Awards, and in 2016, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for “services to diversity in the fashion industry.” Now, as the first black man to lead a major fashion publication, he’s made diversity his signature; his first issue in December 2017 featured biracial model Adwoa Aboah on its cover, signifying a fresh new shift in the magazine’s outlook, as Enninful recently told Vogue: “Diversity for me is not just about skin color but of perspectives. It should be part of the language of the magazine always. That’s just what the world is.”
He also promised much more to come: “It’s just the beginning. I haven’t even started!”
One of Enninful’s other inspired moves at British Vogue was to install friend and legendary supermodel Naomi Campbell as contributing editor. Campbell will be recognized on Monday, as well, when she accepts the 2018 Fashion Icon award.
If it’s an honor that feels strangely overdue, it is. Previous recipients Rihanna and Beyoncé owe Campbell no small debt for paving the way for the recognition of black beauty (not to mention proving the strength of a patented strut, Queen Bey). After all, Campbell was slaying runways as a supermodel long before either of the above was a one-named superstar.
Of course, one of the highlights of the CFDA Awards is bound to be the awkward black girl magic that Issa Rae will bring to the podium as host.
In addition to the ongoing success of her hit show Insecure, Rae has been proving herself a bona fide fashion plate, becoming one we’re always eager to spot on red carpets, if only to see what glorious new natural style she and stylist Felicia Leatherwood have come up with.
We’re excited to see how Rae, as the first woman to host the CFDAs in nearly a decade, will use the opportunity to its most fashionable—and funny—advantage.
Of course, aside from seeing who wins, what we really can’t wait to see is what everyone will be wearing Monday night. Meet us here Tuesday morning to catch the highlights!