Cheat Sheet: All you need to know about the 2018 CFDA Awards

Here's what happens when fashion celebrates itself.
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Spring is party season for the fashion world, and last night was a big one for New York—it was the 2018 CFDA awards!

For about two hours the industry applauded itself, and its members. It was about as insider-y as insider events get: lots of appearances and name dropping of some of fashion’s biggest icons.

Several references to people who usually work behind the scenes. There was a Phantom Thread joke. Sure, a lot of the evening might have been lost on those who aren’t hardcore fashion fans, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some great moments.

So in case, you missed it, or you need a bit of a cheat sheet, here were last night’s biggest takeaways:

Issa Rae Was a Stellar Host in a Pyer Moss gown that featured over 180,000 Swarovski crystals and a belt embroidered with “Every N—- Is a Star”​​​

Writer/director/actress Issa Rae was the CFDA award’s first female host in 10 years, and the first person of colour to host ever, and yet the first thing she said in her opening monologue was that she almost turned the job down.

She was joking, of course—it was a pretty cute bit about how she didn’t have much fashion sense growing up. “As you can see from a very early age I had little regard for things like fashion, style, or common fucking sense,” she said while pictures of herself flashed on the screen.

But it quickly became the night’s most memorable moment when she turned it into a quip about Kanye West.

“When I’m left to my own devices I’m about as fashionable as Kanye is black—only when it’s convenient,” she said, referencing his recent controversial remarks.

“That joke was my choice, just like slavery.” Oh, what we would have given for a Kim Kardashian reaction shot.

Oprah Was There

She was on hand to present Edward Enninful with the Media Award, and she wore a Brandon Maxwell gown to do it. Thus concludes your daily Oprah update.

Other Celebrities Were There Too…Like Cate Blanchett, who wore Monse.

In addition to a slew of New York fashion designers standing on stage behind Ralph Lauren (who was honoured with the CFDA member’s salute), Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong’o, Claire Danes, Lee Daniels and Trevor Noah were all on hand celebrate fashion.

But the celebs weren’t there just for the sake of having some big names on the presenter roster—they all had a real passion for the people they were celebrating.

Turns out fashion has some powerful fans.

…And There Were More Famous Faces in Video Tributes

Sure, the star power in the room was impressive.

But the best, and most unexpected, cameos came in the form of video appearances for some of the honorees—like when North West graced the show with her appearance in a tribute to her mother, Kim, who was honoured with the first-ever Influencer award.

Another surprise of the night was Audrey Versace, Donatella’s adorable pup, who not only showed off the designer’s Milan home (which is dripping with decadence), but also quickly recapped all of her accomplishments as she was granted the International award.

By the way, Audrey was decked out in Versace gold medallions, because of course she was.

It Was a Surprisingly Emotional Night

Breaking the stereotype that people in the fashion industry play it cool at all times, several people got choked up while on stage—even Naomi Campbell was struggling not to cry!

But the crowd was more than supportive with their applause, especially when Narciso Rodriguez was almost too overwhelmed to finish his speech while accepting the Lifetime Achievement award.

From now on when you hear someone call fashion a family, know that they really mean it.

Diversity and Inclusion Were Big Themes of the Night…

The industry still has a long way to go in terms of diverse representation. Whether it’s race, age, gender, or size, there is still quite a bit of homogeny when it comes to our fashion ideals.

But last night there seemed to be a genuine focus on celebrating how the honorees have helped change the status quo. Enninful spoke about his commitment to making British Vogue both visually and thoughtfully diverse.

Meanwhile, several people spoke of how Kardashian has changed beauty ideals in regards to size. But the biggest acknowledgement of how difficult the fashion industry can be, come from Campbell, who received the Fashion Icon award.

“I was told many times that I couldn’t do certain things because of the colour of my skin,” the supermodel said in her speech.

“I’m human, and I found it hard at times not to take it personally. But I stand here today as a proud woman in front of you of colour.

I will continue to push for diversity, and equality, in this industry.”

…As Were Politics

In recent years the CFDA has been increasingly vocal about political issues, from supporting Planned Parenthood and the ACLU during fashion week, to working hard to find ways of supporting sustainable fashion design.

With that in mind, it was no surprise that politics played a part in the night, especially when Diane von Furstenberg was honoured with the Swarovski Award for Positive Change.

Activist and Parkland survivor Delaney Tarr delivered a warm speech, focusing on how the CFDA chairperson (as DVF specified) has dedicated so much of her career to supporting women.

True to form, the first thing Von Furstenberg did when she got on stage turned the focus back on Tarr: “She is now going to be 18 which means that she can vote,” she said.

“But actually I want Delaney to run.” They were but a few words of encouragement from an evening that showed how even though the fashion industry itself seems superficial, the people in it are tuned in to what is happening in the world—and they’re working to change it.

The Winners

Lest you forgot, the CFDA awards isn’t just for tributes, but has competitive awards categories as well—granted, there are only four.

Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen took home the trophy for accessory designers of the year for their brand, The Row.

James Jebbia of Supreme took the menswear category, while Sander Lak of Sies Marjan was named the best emerging designer.

And for the second year in a row Raf Simons was named womenswear designer of the year for his work at Calvin Klein. Congrats!


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