Unearthing Clothing Design Talent: The CFDA Fashion Awards

by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

November 8, 2006

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One could argue the real Project Runway is not televised. Rather, it's held behind the scenes, visible only to the fashion elite. It's called the CFDA/Vogue Fashion awards and it offers the ultimate break for those seeking a career in fashion.

The CFDA/Vogue Fashion awards are co-sponsored by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, whose membership includes the likes of Ralph Lauren, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Donna Karan; and of course, the venerable Vogue magazine. The CFDA board and various influential members of the clothing design community nominate candidates for the several awards presented each year.

CFDA: Recognizing New Fashion Stars
When writing about the CFDA fashion awards in New York, Vogue editor Anna Wintour said "...we know that to win a first or a runner-up prize is to receive a very substantial professional boost." She goes on to recount the many professional successes recent award winners have enjoyed. A few of the highly celebrated young clothing designers include Proenza Schouler, Jack McCollough, Lazaro Hernandez, and Trovata.

The winner is awarded $200,000 and a year of mentoring with an established and well-connected clothing design insider. Perhaps that sounds a touch more attractive than the $100,000 offered to Project Runway contestants?

Project Runway and Commercial Success
Of course, Project Runway is a very serious undertaking in the fashion world. For those who seek a career in fashion defined by quick commercial success, it can be an incredible opportunity. I wonder how many orders German-transplant Uli has received for her tropics-inspired printed dresses? She's probably busy filling orders at this very moment.

But for those seeking the recognition of the esteemed CFDA and a career in fashion modelled on the greatest clothing design talents, there's no better validation than to win the group's best new designer award. There are probably few better ways to launch a career post-fashion school.

Fashion School: Getting the Basics
Speaking of fashion school, where does it fit into all this? Well, it will equip you with the skills needed to harness your keen sense of style and intense creativity into something truly magnificent. Not attending fashion school would be tantamount to an aspiring novelist never learning the basics of sentence structure, or the construction of complex plot devices. So push forward - your auspicious future awaits you.


About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer specializing in career development and postsecondary education.

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