Monday, the Council of Fashion Designers of America held their annual awards gala and to much amazement four Black designers were nominated. Virgil Abloh and Kerby Jean Raymond were both nominated for Menswear Designer of the Year, Telfar Clemens received a nod for Accessory Designer of the Year and Heron Preston was a nominee in the Emerging Designer category. While it is no secret that Black designers have long struggled for acceptance in the world of luxury fashion, this year there was hope that they would take home a win because, let’s be honest, they deserve it.
Despite constant criticism of the fashion industry’s lack of diversity and recent attempts by brands to become more inclusive, we’re quickly reminded that there is still a lot of work to do. Case in point: not one designer of color took home an award Monday which is surprising (but, not) considering the innovation, influence and reach that Black creatives contributed to the fashion space this year. Take one look at the CFDA members board who decides on the winners, however, and that same lack of diversity is reflected there as well.
The ongoing question remains, “When will black people stop being used as a source of shock value?” A known ally for the CFDA, Vogue, featured behind-the-scenes footage of Jhene Aiko and Jessica Williams getting ready, named Teyana Taylor and Iman Shumpert the best dressed couple of the night and like many other publications, lived for Yara Shahidi’s hair. While all of these articles provided entertaining content that puts the “focus” on black celebrities, the designers (who the awards are actually for) left the show empty handed. Not to mention, the impressions from the awards show focused not on the winners but on Raymond’s star studded celeb crew, Swae Lee throwing black money in the air and Gigi Hadid and Abloh’s CFDA after party.
Telfar who got tremendously snubbed for his viral Shopping Bag posted a relevant photo addressing the “Caucasian winners,” at this years awards. “But we still took the bag” the brand posted while photoshopping the C in CFDA to BDFA standing for Black Fashion Designers of America.
While fashion is still so white, Black creatives will continue to create the blueprint for innovative style that shapes culture. But, that’s something we’ve known for a long, long time.