Belgian-born fashion designer and Calvin Klein creative director Raf Simons scooped the top prizes at the annual CFDA awards on Monday night, at a ceremony with a singular focus on hope, tolerance and acceptance.
Receiving both the Womenswear and Menswear Designer of the Year for his Fall 2017 Calvin Klein collections – a feat only previously achieved by Calvin Klein himself, in 1993 – the win pressed home the impact of the international designer on the American fashion industry since he joined Calvin Klein in 2016. The Fall/Winter collections, for which Simons was nominated, had been lauded as a love letter to the nation’s diversity and hospitality amongst the turbulence of the Trump administration.
“If we as creatives can be an inspiration for how the world should look, I think that it’s something we should take as a very important task,” Simons said in his acceptance speech on Monday night.
The CFDA Board of Directors also paid tribute to the Women’s March, honouring the contributions of three key figures to the women’s rights movement: Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards; renowned feminist scholar Gloria Steinem; and political pop icon Janelle Monaé, who delivered a five-minute speech on fashion, the Women’s March, and the importance of inclusivity. “Women’s rights are human rights. LGBTQ rights are human rights. Poor folks’ rights are human rights. Immigrant rights are human rights. Minority rights are human rights. So as human beings, let’s never forget that none of us are free until all of us are free,” she proclaimed.
Former Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour also attended the ceremony to present the CFDA Icon Award in memory of Franca Sozzani. In tribute to the wide-ranging contribution of the late Vogue Italia editor to the fashion world, Wintour said, “Franca’s deep imagination drew on drama, irony, history, ambition, and a feeling that fashion meant more than clothes on a runway. She was fearless too, imbuing Italian Vogue with deep, often controversial, moral purpose. Think of her portfolio on domestic violence. Or her pioneering issue featuring only black models. Or her plus-size cover. She was not just ahead of our time. She was ahead of our courage, in so many ways.”
Amongst the bevy of awards handed out on Monday night, Accessory Designer of the Year went to Coach’s Stuart Vevers; Demna Gvasalia received International Designer of the Year for his creations at Vetements and Balenciaga, and Rick Owens was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent was awarded to Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim of Monse, and the Founder’s Award went to path-breaking makeup artist Pat McGrath.
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