The 2021 CFDA Awards are shaping up to be a pretty significant night: Not only will they mark the return to an in-person event after Covid forced the 2020 proceedings to go digital, but they also seem to reflect a response to years of criticism that the organization tends to recognize the same kinds of designers year after year.
While 2020's shortlist was considered its most diverse ever, there were only six BIPOC designers among 30 CFDA Award nominees, and the evening's biggest categories — womenswear and menswear designers of the year — still primarily featured people who'd been nominated and won several times in the past, like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row, Marc Jacobs and CFDA President Tom Ford. It was a small step in the right direction, though, and this year the CFDA and its voters took bigger one.
Christopher John Rogers is up for the all-important American Womenswear Designer of the Year Award — one of few Black designers to ever be nominated. (The last was Virgil Abloh, in 2018.) Vietnamese-American Peter Do also joins the category for the first time. Telfar Clemens, who won Accessories Designer of the Year in 2020, makes his first entry to the Menswear Designer of the Year category, as does Jerry Lorenzo of Fear of God. Of the five nominees for Emerging Designer of the Year, three are Black, including Edvin Thompson of Theophilio, Jameel Mohammed of Khiry and Kenneth Nicholson.
After eschewing the specialty "honoree" awards last year, the CFDA is bringing them back; recipients will include Aurora James, who will be recognized for her work on the 15 Percent Pledge, and Dapper Dan, who will be given the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award.
"The 2021 CFDA Fashion Awards mark the much-anticipated in-person return to our biggest fundraiser for CFDA's scholarship programs," CFDA CEO Steven Kolb said, in a statement. "We're also incredibly pleased to see several talented names among the nominees for the first time. American fashion is experiencing a renewed energy, and these designers play a significant role in the future trajectory of our industry."
The winners will be presented on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at The Pool + The Grill in New York City. See all the nominees and honorees below.
American Womenswear Designer of the Year: Catherine Holstein for Khaite, Christopher John Rogers, Gabriela Hearst, Marc Jacobs and Peter Do.
American Menswear Designer of the Year: Emily Adams Bode for Bode, Jerry Lorenzo for Fear of God, Mike Amiri for Amiri, Telfar Clemens for Telfar and Thom Browne.
American Accessories Designer of the Year: Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen for The Row, Aurora James for Brother Vellies, Gabriela Hearst, Stuart Vevers for Coach and Telfar Clemens for Telfar.
American Emerging Designer of the Year: Edvin Thompson for Theophilio, Eli Russell Linnetz for ERL, Jameel Mohammed for Khiry, Kenneth Nicholson and Maisie Schloss for Maisie Wilen.
International Women's Designer of the Year: Daniel Lee for Bottega Veneta, Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons for Prada, Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino, and Simon Porte Jacquemus for Jacquemus.
International Men's Designer of the Year: Daniel Lee for Bottega Veneta, Dries Van Noten, Grace Wales Bonner for Wales Bonner, Rick Owens and Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton.
Founder’s Award in honor of Eleanor Lambert: Aurora James for the 15 Percent Pledge.
Environmental Sustainability Award: Patagonia.
Media Award in honor of Eugenia Sheppard: Nina Garcia.
Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award: Dapper Dan.
Board of Directors' Tribute: Yeohlee Teng.