Sunday, October 18, 2009

The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalists

Established to provide financial awards and business mentoring to emerging fashion designers, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund helps emerging American designers pursue their design plan. In addition to grants of US$200,000 to the winner, and US$50,000 to the two runners-up, the award includes a year-long mentorship with an industry professional whose business expertise is best suited to support each of the designers' specific needs and future goals. Sponsored by partner the Gap, underwriters American Express, Appleman Foundation, Barneys New York, Coach, Evgeny Lebedev, Hudson Bay Trading Company, Juicy Couture, Kellwood Company, Liz Claiborne Inc, L’Oréal Paris, Nordstrom, Theory and VOGUE, the winner will be announced at a gala dinner in New York City on November 16. Past winners include Alexander Wang, Philip Lim, Rodarte, Proenza Schouler and Derek Lam. Here are this year's 10 finalists:

1. House of Waris

You know those people who have good things happen to them simply because they were in the right place at the right time? Well, Waris is one of them. The single-named NYC hipster, designer & AIDS fundraiser just happened to be at Maxfield in Los Angeles doing a little shopping, when one of their buyers spotted his diamond knuckleduster rings which covered three fingers per hand. Asked where they came from, Waris explained that he had designed them - and promptly got a order. Needless to say, the House of Waris was born.
The pieces from the Italian atelier are an interesting blend and juxtaposition of Western & Eastern design sensibilities & techniques. Recent;y having moved production to India, every piece is now hand-made.

2. Wayne

Having shown her ruched goddess minidresses with graphic cutouts at New York Fashion Week, her first collection there, designer Wayne Lee dropped out of medical school, moved to New York, got a job in the buying department at Barneys where she was coerced into making her own clothes. Debuting her line of sculptural rings and bags, Lee named the works of sculptor Richard Serra as the main inspiration for her acclaimed spring collection.

3. Monique Péan

Her website lists her fine jewelry as inspired by "indigenous cultures, while remaining socially and environmentally conscious". Having traveled to places as far-flung as Haiti, Egypt, Alaska, Russia and China,
Péan has studied political science, philosophy and economics, working at Wall Street all the while she was taking fashion design courses in New York. Inspired to become a designer after the fatal death of her sister, she uses only recycled gold and gems mined with minimal environmental consequences, and proceeds from every collection go to philanthropic groups.

4. Patrik Ervell

A fashion insider's favourite at HE magazine,
Ervell worked as a contributing fashion editor for V Magazine, got a major in political science, took classes at Parsons School of Design before setting up his own line in 2005. Born to Swedish parents, Patrik Ervell is New York based, by way of California. He didn't always want to do fashion, but after moving to New York and making T-shirts for his college friend Humberto Leon at Opening Ceremony, the chemistry between him and fashion was evident.

5. Alabama Chanin

"New company, new name!" said Natalie Chanin, second-time Fashion Fund finalist (her first run was in 2005, when her label was called Project Alabama). But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Her clothes are still stitched by local artisans in Florence, Alabama, out of organic materials, and not a single scrap goes to waste (some fabric gets baled and made into couches). And they've still got a homespun-but-modern look (striped pieces for spring were inspired by Agnes Martin paintings). "It has to be sustainable, and it has to be beautiful," Chanin says.

6. Ohne Titel

As young Parsons designers, Flora Gill and Alexa Adams had all eyes focused on them during New York Fashion Week, their fourth season showing. said of their collection "... had a romance and urbanity that belied the designers' age and experience." Having graduated from Parson in 1999, Adams spent several years at Helmut Lang, reuniting with Gill in 2005, working for Karl Lagerfeld. In September 2006, the label was founded. Pairing architectural shapes and soft draping with a keen attention to detail in fit and finish, the two design for the strong and modern woman.

7. Sophie Theallet

Moving to Paris at the age of 18, Theallet moved to Paris to attend the famous fashion design school, Studio Bercot. Upon her graduation, she received a National Young Designer Award, and was commissioned to design her own collection for Parisian department store, Le Printemps. Feeling she needed a stronger fashion foundation, she opted to work for the house of Jean-Paul Gaultier instead of starting her own label. A few years later, she relocated to the house of Azzedine
Alaïa where she worked on the main collection, designing accessories and knitwear. In its review for her 2010 spring collection, wrote that the pieces were "draped, haltered, and closed with lingerie buttons, some of them snaked around the body with a sari's embrace while others seemed to drip from it."

8. Esquivel Shoes

Esquivel's collection of striking classics with a modern twist, are said to be hand-made for the discerning buyer whose tastes go "beyond the confines of off the rack similarity". Bringing Esquivel's work to fruition encompasses over 100 detailed steps. Each pair is meticulously created in his Southern California shop using only the finest materials available. Hand cutting the uppers, massaging the leather into shape on the lasts, and then cutting and finishing the outsoles provides a finished product that bares the detailed markings and subtle imperfections of the laborious craftsmanship necessary to create each pair.

9. Spurr

Having launched in the fall of 2006, the menswear designs of Spurr are "detailed, clean and modern." Born in England in 1974, designer Simon Spurr graduated with a B.A. in Men's Fashion Design from Middlesex University in 1996. Spurr started his career designing for Europe and Japan Yves Saint Laurent under the tutelage of Heidi Slimane. Since then, he has worked for Calvin Klein, Burberry Black Japan, and Ralph Lauren Purple Label.

10. Gary Graham

A self-proclaimed lover of all things Xena, Warrior Princess, Graham is known for treatment of fabrics and deconstruction methods, dying, machine quilting, shrinking and fraying his material. Calling himself "a poor man's Galliano," Graham studied fashion at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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