The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

fashion’s oscars: the 2021 council for fashion designers of america (cfda) awards

Illustration by Maryrose Ceccarelli

Like many other fashion-centered events this year, the evening of Nov. 10 marked an exciting return to in-person awards ceremonies for the Council for Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). The event, which was held at The Pool + The Grill in Manhattan, gathered one of the best-dressed crowds, as it hosted fashion-dedicated celebrities, actors, designers and brand representatives. The CFDA, a nonprofit trade association, founded in 1962, includes 477 members of the industry’s most distinguished designers. 

According to the CFDA, their mission is to “strengthen the impact of American fashion in the global economy,” and they certainly celebrated the essence of American fashion through their 2021 awards. Actress Emily Blunt hosted the event, accompanied by designer Tom Ford, the chairman of the CFDA. In commenting on the struggles the industry endured throughout the pandemic, CFDA CEO Steven Kolb noted, “American fashion is experiencing a renewed energy, and these designers play a significant role in the future trajectory of our industry.”

Among designer awardees, Dapper Dan was one of the most notable winners, as he was the first winner to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award without exhibiting his designs in a fashion show. Commenting on his look at the CFDA Awards, he stated, “I wanted to do Gucci, but I wanted to be Harlem. So I had to bring the two elements together.” In this way, his designs highlight the unique intersections between the established personality of Gucci designs and the unique cultural elements of his Harlem background.

For the CFDA’s Fashion Icon Award, acclaimed model Iman presented Zendaya with the award. At just 25 years old, she is the youngest ever winner for this award, and her influence as an actress and fashion-forward celebrity certainly qualifies her for the award. We’ve been graced with Zendaya’s red-carpet presence many times within the past few months, as she recently finished her press tour for the movie “Dune.” Continuing to demonstrate her creative style, she stunned at the awards in a scarlet Vera Wang three piece bandeau, cropped jacket and voluminous peplum skirt set, accessorizing with a Bulgari necklace.

The CFDA also named Patagonia as the winner of the Environmental Sustainability Award due to their efforts to sustainably innovate within their brand, as well as their transparency with customers. In an interview with Vogue, the brand’s Director of Philosophy Vincent Stanley highlighted the extent to which Patagonia promotes high-quality pieces and environmentalism, noting that they go so far as to consider the environmental impacts of building their own warehouses. 

“These constraints we’ve put on ourselves have actually resulted in innovations, and they’ve changed the way customers view us,” Stanley said. 

As the consideration of systemic change within the fashion industry continues to increase, it is no surprise that the CFDA wanted to highlight Patagonia’s sustainability-driven mission.

Within the fashion media realm, the CFDA awarded ELLE’s Editor-in-Chief Nina Garcia with the Media Award. Through her platform, Garcia’s strides in fashion journalism have powerfully created space for the voices of previously silenced individuals, highlighting their unseen stories. 

In her acceptance speech, Garcia, after discussing the hardships she faced as a Latina within the industry, encouraged, “We must be bold; we must be courageous; and we certainly must herald in a new age of fashion, one that is transparent, responsible, and representative.”

With so many honorable nominees and winners, the CFDA continues to pave the way for greater collaboration and vision within the fashion industry. 

A full list of award winners can be found here.

Support Student Media
Hi, I’m Grace Avery, the Editor In Chief of A Magazine. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.

More to Discover
Donate to a magazine
Our Goal