Over the next seven weeks, you can take a weekly peek into what it's really like to be an American fashion designer building your business and brand. The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition has evolved in its decade or so of existence into something of a rite of passage for designers looking for recognition and a way to grow (the winner & runners-up walk away with at least $100,000), helping launch & establish the careers of Thakoon, Proenza Schouler, Derek Lam, Phillip Lim, Altuzarra & Jason Wu. For the first episode in this year's seven-part series, the judges, which include Vogue editrix, Anna Wintour, Jenna Lyons of J.Crew, Jeffrey Kalinsky of the retail chain Jeffrey, Theory's Andrew Rosen and Diane von Furstenberg & other insiders review the various portfolios and narrow the talent down to these ten:
A.L.C. Ready-to-wear - and later, jewelry - which debuted in 2009 by Andrea Lieberman, a Parsons grad whose design career included stints with Giorgio D'Saint Angelo & Romeo Gigli. Probably better known as "it" stylist to chic stars like Gwen Stefani and Gwyneth Paltrow, her aesthetic focuses on "perfectly engineered basics" infused with an edgier twist.
Assembly New York If you're fashion-forward but appreciate historical "survivalist" fabrics (style-speak translation: cashmere, silk, leather, fur, suede, linen, fine cotton) and tailoring worthy of such esteem, Greg Armas probably has what you're looking for. His stuff is designed to be comfortable, durable, trendproof & that you'll want to keep in your closet for more than a fashion-minute, both because of what Armas has dubbed the "archival" quality of his work as well as subtle design deets apparent only to the (appreciative) wearer.Giulietta Florentine native Sofia Sizzi paid her design dues at Gucci, Donna Karan & Calvin Klein - overseeing both menswear and women's accessories. Her satin & velvet shoes, artisanally-crafted jewelry and clothing made with time-honored Italian techniques are designed for women who enjoy a side of fabulous & fierce with their feminine.
Illesteva Whether they're exploring the fashion-limits of acetate or injecting some freshness into glasses design with bamboo, wood, titanium and natural buffalo horn, this three-year old line owned by Justin Salguero, Daniel Silberman, and Alina Silberman features luxury frames handmade in Europe (France, Italy & Germany). Fashion-savvy celebs who've been seen in the brand include Rihanna, Alexa Chung & Lady Gaga.
Jennifer Fisher Jewelry The fashion stylist turned jewelry designer after the birth of her first child, when she couldn't find anything with his name on it that wasn't bland, mass-produced or even her style. So she had his name hand-stamped on a simple dog-tag charm she designed and wore it on a long, thick link-chain. After friends, fam, strangers requested she make them one, the designer started her eponymous line which she hopes the wearers treasure and wear "all the time."
Jennifer Meyer Ditching her PR day job to design fine jewelry seems to have worked out well for Mrs. Tobey Maguire. Her signature piece, worn by Jennifer Anniston in "The Break-Up", is an 18k gold charm of a leaf - which symbolizes turning over a new one. She first learned jewelry making at the age of six from her grandmother, but she since moved on from the enamel of her youth to precious metals and semi-precious stones .. and fans including Ashley Olsen.
SUNO When Max Osterweis found his longtime second home, Kenya, battered and bruised by post-election violence in 2008, he began collaborating with Erin Beatty on ways to turn his extensive stash of vintage local textiles into a small locally-produced collection. Even in its first season, it was could be found on the racks of Opening Ceremony, Maria Luisa, Enny di Monaco and Ikram. The business model still includes production in Kenya, but has expanded to India, Peru and their home base of New York - but still features fun and fresh fabrics and prints tailored using local, high-end techniques.
Tabitha Simmons This NYC-based British fashion stylist loves shoes so much, she began designing them. A contributing editor for Vogue magazine and regular contributor to Dazed and Confused and Another Magazine, she also collaborates with photographers like Craig McDean, Glen Luchford and Steven Klein and fashion designers Calvin Klein, Alexander McQueen and Zac Posen.
The Elder Statesman While Greg Chait may have founded his line in 2007 with a stack of heavy-gauge blankets, it has long-since morphed into luxurious but understated cashmere pieces, handmade accessories and even private-label branded Scotch.
Wes Gordon Southerner Gordon attended London's prestigious Central Saint Martins and now designs with the "feminine mystique" in mind, especially the way people express and transform themselves through fashion.
- Lesley Scott