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2023 CFDA Awards highlight diversity and innovation in fashion

Screenshot from Council of Fashion Designers YouTube Video

The 61st annual Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards was held at the American Museum of Natural History on Nov. 6. The evening was filled with fashion and entertainment visionaries who were accompanied by the natural history museum’s plus one, an enormous 94-foot blue whale that hung from the ceiling.

The ceremony served as a celebration of the American fashion industry and the individuals whose craft is a collective force of “creativity, diversity, and inclusion.”

“We experience unique stories that nobody else in the world can tell, that let us come together as a collective at the CFDA to experience new perspectives, new ideas, new meanings to the world that we surround ourselves with, and what a privilege it is to be able to share those stories with each other,” Thom Browne, first-year chairman of the CFDA said. 

The CFDA awarded esteemed individuals in the fashion industry through 12 different categories, including Designer of the Year for American menswear and womenswear, the Environmental Sustainability Award, and the International Designer of the Year award.

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker was initially announced to host this year’s awards but was unable to due to “unforeseen circumstances.” This led to her self-proclaimed understudy Anne Hathaway filling the role instead. 

“The Devil Wears Prada” star acknowledged the presence of the “one-named” fashion icons in the room, such as Vera Wang, Anna Wintour and Serena Williams. Hathway described fashion as “synonymous to art” and “a dream in which you can live.”

Vanessa Hudgens presented this year’s Board of Directors’ Tribute to Wang, a designer who has “revolutionized the wedding industry.” Wang thanked the CFDA for their acknowledgment of the bridal industry and said she hoped the award will bring “a much-needed light” to this industry.

SKIMS cofounder Kim Kardashian presented the Fashion Icon Award to Williams, the first athlete to be awarded. Kardashian said that Williams’ courage and authenticity in the worlds of beauty, sports, and sportswear have changed the “preconceptions of what a player should look like” and represent young women of color.

In her acceptance speech, Williams expanded on the impact fashion has had on her. Ever since she was a child, Williams said she knew she was “different and so [she] explored fashion and style as a way to…distinguish [herself].” With her reimagination of traditional sportswear, the tennis courts had become her runway, and the U.S. Open was her New York Fashion Week.

This year’s Media Award marks history with its first-ever Asian-American recipient, Alina Cho. Cho used fashion as an outlet and a way to assimilate into her environment as an Asian-American.

 The journalist said dressing up helped her feel like she belonged and has had a “love affair” with fashion ever since. Cho got her start on CNN as a national correspondent in 2004 and soon began to mesh her passions by pitching fashion stories. 

Cho concluded her speech by thanking her mother, who was present. “Thank you for teaching me what it means to have style; thank you for making me believe I was the best at everything, even when I wasn’t, Cho said. “It gave me the courage to dream big, and it is the reason I am standing on this stage tonight.”

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