The race is officially back on. Fashion month is long gone—or rather, over by just a few days—and the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition has kicked back into high gear. Earlier tonight at the One World Trade Center gallery, perched high above the city, designers mingled with a glittering array of A-listers for a cocktail party hosted by Diane von Furstenberg and Anna Wintour in celebration of the Fashion Fund Design Challenge underwritten by Fossil. Each candidate in this year’s class was challenged to come up with a design appropriate for a cultural event on the fall calendar, an endeavor that proved to be both fun and enlightening.
“It got us thinking about movement and something that could be for cocktail,” said Baja East’s Scott Studenberg and John Targon of their ensemble inspired by the New York City Ballet’s fall gala. “We referenced a lot of choreographers,” explained the duo of their cream-on-cream tonal look sported by NYCB principal dancer Sara Mearns.
Twirling among the nominees were a slew of previous CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund contestants, including Paul Andrew, Jennifer Fisher, Prabal Gurung, and the Orley trio. Having gone through the process, did they have any words of wisdom? “Take a deep breath and enjoy it because you miss it when it’s over,” said Irene Neuwirth in a Rosie Assoulin jumpsuit punctuated with her own jewelry. That sentiment was echoed by fellow jewelry designer Monique Péan, who said, “Have fun! It’s an incredible experience.”
Also taking in the designs were style-setters including Danai Gurira, whose play Eclipsed is currently at the Public Theater’s LuEsther Hall; Alexa Chung; and Cush Jumbo, who’s currently in New York filming The Good Wife and enjoying autumn in the city. “I love the in-between phase [of fall],” beamed Jumbo in Michael Kors and Chanel. “It’s my favorite time for experimenting. I’ll be layering up some Giambattista Valli with Michael Kors to set.”
Chung, who was photographed alongside former finalist Pamela Love of the 2011 competition, offered up some words of wisdom she learned from another It Brit, designer Erdem Moralioglu. “I once asked Erdem, because I was thinking of starting my own thing, and his words to me were to not deviate from yourself and trust your instincts.”
Jonathan Simkhai’s blush strapless dress elegantly wrapped around his date, Wallis Currie-Wood. “I love corsets!” exclaimed the actress, who was also joined by her Tony-winning beau, Alex Sharp. “It rekindles that old-world glamour and makes you feel both sexy and womanly, but also modest and comfortable in your own skin.” Simkhai agreed, adding that the competition has forced him to “come up with different ideas and go outside the box.”
As Eva Zuckerman, Brett Heyman, Ryan Roche, and countless other CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund alums chatted with the present class, all were talking about The Fashion Fund’s move to Amazon. “They get Amazon, which is an amazing medium!” exclaimed Veronica Miele Beard, adding that this year’s contestants should “use it to their greatest advantage. It’s everywhere.”
One place the all-reaching network might not have been was the Black Rock Desert in Nevada for Burning Man, which is where contestant Thaddeus O’Neil landed for his challenge. “I had to go to Burning Man even though it was the week of my women’s Spring show,” joked O’Neil, adding, “It was an adventure I had to take.” So how did the designer interpret the experience? Through a bevy of color, print, and texture on his model, the artist and poet Cleo Wade. “It was a natural fit,” said O’Neil of his date. “Anyone that loves words the way she does, I have an immediate affinity for them.”
With the competition heading out West next week to present their looks in a group fashion show, does the perennially sun-kissed designer have any plans outside of the competition? “To go surfing with my friends out in Malibu.” It seems as if O’Neil might have the right idea, because as Zuckerman says: “The worst of it is over and the best is yet to come.”
The post Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Wintour, and Fossil Host the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Design Challenge Cocktail appeared first on Vogue.
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