Wednesday evening, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund announced its 11th batch of nominees. Each American designer will go on meet with the selection committee, which includes Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Wintour, Andrew Rosen, Steven Kolb, Ken Downing, David Neville, Marcus Wainwright, Mark Holgate, Jeffrey Kalinsky, Reed Krakoff and Jenna Lyons. They will also take part in a Maybelline design challenge and a runway show in Los Angeles. All will be documented on "The Fashion Fund," a reality show to air on Ovation in November. The winner and runners up, who receive $300,000 and $100,000 respectively, will be announced at a dinner Nov. 3.
The designers chosen represent more than just a list of nominees -- they're a fresh group of designers worth keeping your eye on. Getting shortlisted for the prize is a pretty good sign that a designer is going somewhere.
And these 10 are no exception. From two designers who have already dressed Michelle Obama to Diane Kruger's go-to clutch designer, read on for a rundown of this year's ones to watch.
Perhaps the most well-known designer on this list, Wes Gordon has accomplished a lot despite his young age, including winning the Fashion Group International Rising Star Award in 2013, being nominated for a CFDA Swarovski award this year and dressing Lena Dunham and Michelle Obama, among others. Since launching his business right out of school in 2009, he regularly impresses industry insiders as much with his more outlandish collections as his more subdued ones. This is Gordon's second time being nominated for the Fashion Fund and we have a good feeling that this could be his year.
We wonder if having dressed the First Lady gets you an instant nomination for this fund, as Tanya Taylor has done it twice in just the past couple of months. A Canada native, Taylor has become known for her original prints in bright, optimistic colors done in smart, feminine cuts. She is often inspired by artists.
A competition like this inevitably causes designers to compete with their friends and this is likely the case with Paul Andrew and Tanya Taylor, who recently collaborated on shoes together. British-born, New York-based Andrew launched his namesake line last year after gigs designing footwear at Donna Karan, Narciso Rodriguez and Calvin Klein, and his rise has been pretty meteoric. Named "Launch of the Year" by Footwear News in 2013, Andrew's sexy, expertly crafted shoes can be found at Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks and Harrods.
Daniel Corrigan and Jake Sargent of Simon Miller
Simon Miller left his eponymous label in 2011 and has since launched a new denim line. But the Los Angeles-based label has continued on without him, having expanded from just men's Japanese denim to other clothing, like knitwear, shirting and outerwear. It's even begun breaking into womenswear.
Brett Heyman of Edie Parker
The box-shaped, glittery, vintage-inspired clutches former Gucci publicist Brett Heyman creates for Edie Parker have taken the industry and the red carpet by storm. The acrylic confections are everywhere during Fashion Month, and style stars like Diane Kruger are rarely seen without one. The line stems from Heyman's obsession with vintage handbags.
Natalie Levy and Grant Krajecki of Grey Ant
Indie label Grey Ant, part of the inaugural CFDA Incubator class, has made a name for itself with reinterpreted versions of classic sunglass shapes. Singer/songwriter Kelis is currently its campaign star.
Eva Zuckerman of Eva Fehren
Fine jewelry designer Eva Zuckerman takes inspiration from New York architecture and has all of her product handmade in the city. Her geometric jewelry feels at once industrial and delicate. Philip Crangi, Anna Sheffield and Monique Péan are among her former employers, so she's clearly learned from the best.
Gigi Burris of Gigi Burris Millinery
Burris founded her namesake line in 2009 in the interest of preserving the art of millinery. Her eccentric designs have been seen on Lady Gaga and Rihanna, as well as in countless fashion editorials. She's said that she hopes to one day expand into ready-to-wear and perhaps winning the Fashion Fund will allow her to do that.
Having started in childrenswear, Ryan Roche launched her eponymous women's knitwear line in 2011 and counts Maggie Gyllenhaal, Milla Jovovich and Shalom Harlow as fans. She works with an all-women's cooperative in Nepal to produce her cashmere knits and also recently launched a range of hats, for which she partnered with a milliner near her home in upstate New York.
Orley’s Matt Orley, Alex Orley and Samantha Florence
This buzzy new menswear brand is moving through the CFDA ranks quickly. The designers -- two brothers and one of their fiancée's -- only just moved into their new studio in the CFDA Incubator. The line is rooted in craftsmanship (everything's made in Italy) but maintains a sense of humor, and thus has lots of appeal.