New talent in the fashion business is like an apple picked from a tree on a crisp October day. It's fresh, juicy, and reminds us why we loved the fruit to begin with. For the past 6 years, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has partnered with Vogue and from a vast pool of fresh design talent, chosen 1 winner and 2 runners-up to receive prize money and recognition in the industry as rising stars.
Often times the winners are people whom are largely unknown at the time of the award to the larger consumer market. Past recipients of this award are Alexander Wang (2008), Rogan Gregory of Rogan (2007), Doo-Ri Chung of Doo.Ri (2006), Trovata (2005) and Proenza Schouler (2004). This year's winner, Sophie Theallet, was born in France and trained with famous designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier and Azzedine Alaia. She launched her own brand in 2006 and her pieces can be found at high-end stores like Barney's. Sophie Theallet's designs have been called 'bohemian lux', which aptly describes her use of movement, draping and fabric choice.
While the winners are certainly a talented bunch, I personally find myself rooting for the designers who end up as runners-up. For example, 2007 runner-up Phillip Lim (of 3.1 Phillip Lim) is a well known designer with edgy, chic pieces. Both 2006 runners-up, Rodarte and Thakoon are now flourishing in the industry. This weekend I finally had the pleasure of attending the American Beauty exhibit at FIT where a red and blue Rodarte draped floor length gown caught my attention. The design had macabre inspiration (blood running through water) but regardless of the gothic notion at its conception, the end product was show stopping.
Thanks to Vogue and the CFDA, green talent can be plucked from the tree and watered with the financial nutrients and experienced mentoring it needs to grow and reach consumers everywhere.