By Timaya Forehand
Many of the nation’s—-and the world’s—–most prominent figures in fashion gathered in the city that never sleeps for dinner and an evening full of style, grace and honor.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America Inc., celebrated the 10th anniversary of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund on Nov. 11, awarding three up-and-coming designers with the help they need to flourish globally in the fashion industry.
Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School, second-time fund nominee Juan Carlos Obando and French-born Marc Alary were all recipients of an endowment.
Founded in 1962 on the belief that American designers had what it took to compete with its superior European peers, the council has since upheld its mission statement “to strengthen the influence and success of American Designers in the global economy.” The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is one of its programs, and this program generates enough money every year to provide the winner and two runners-up with financial aid and business mentoring.
The winner, and likely the most promising talent, received $300,000 for his or her line. Public School was founded in 2008 by Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, two men experienced in creating and flaunting New York menswear. Chow served as the vice president of marketing and creative director at Sean John, and Osborne oversaw all woven design.
While browsing through the Autumn/Winter collection for 2013, any city-slicking kid would fall in love. The designers, born and raised in New York City, hit it right on the nose and satisfy the needs and wants of any modern-day cool kid hoping to look effortlessly chic and edgy.
Chow and Osborne perfect men’s tailored sportswear for the younger college-age to thirty-something crowd. Tailored sweatpants, slim-fitted suits with cardigan jackets, bomber jackets with geometric shapes and Oxford shirts with contrasting sleeves serve as staples in the collection.
The colors are not that bold, only ranging from blues, grays and blacks, to whites and olives, in dark and light variations, but that is what makes it dope and effortless.
Alexander Wang, Mr. Cool Kid himself, makes it a point to wear the same “uniform” all the time, which only consists of black, white and grey ensembles. Simplicity is key and probably the most vital style element for the modern-day man. Contrast seems to be an integral part of the collection, which I believe adds to the modern aesthetic.
Many of the Oxfords and button-downs have contrasting sleeves that change color at the elbow. The leather motorcycle jacket sports wool sleeves, and the gray denim jacket has dark-gray lambskin sleeves. While the pieces are simple and made to make the wearer look cool, it actually keeps him very warm, using practical textures appropriate for the fall and the winter.
In 2013, with the rebirth of slick, Public School’s designs support the idea that cool kids never die.
For Juan Carlos Obando, it looks like the second time is the charm. In 2008, the designer was a Fund nominee, and this year, the LA-based women’s evening wear and accessories designer found himself a runner-up. His work is, in his own words, “primarily concerned with color and fluid structures” and is “simple work that is expressive.”
After taking a look at the collection for myself, I can agree with his self-professed description. The pieces are flowing and silky-looking, with exposed backs and slits up to the thigh. Goddess evening dresses with halter necklines are accented with golden cage-like belts and accessorized with matching bracelets that take up the entire forearm.
My favorite piece is a champagne floor-length skirt paired with a black and white vertical striped top. The designer does not limit himself to just dresses as the traditional evening wear for women. Knowing that today’s woman can handle so much more, Obando has designed sexy pant suits, for example, an all-white strapless peplum top with matching bottoms, and a matching red top with a peek-a-boo neckline and red bottom.
This year was the fifth year in a row that a jewelry designer was a top ten finalist. Marc Alary studied graphic design and illustration, and with that expertise, he helped designed some pieces for Marc Jacobs. After that, he launched his own line in 2009.
His more current collections, Menagerie and Caravan, follow a wildlife theme, hence the collection names—-a menagerie is a collection of animals kept in captivity for exhibition and a caravan is a company of travelers journeying together.
Instead of animals in a rainforest or earthy terrain, the animal pieces featured in his collection seem to be inhabitants of an industrial jungle.
One ring flaunts a monkey, with its joints held together by what looks like bolts. The mechanical monkey also has moving parts.
Aside from the monkey, the collection features rose-gold zebra pendants, flamingo earrings with dangling jeweled legs and prowling cheetah rings that wrap around your finger so that the head touches the tail.
Alary’s jewelry pieces are fitting for any woman wanting to survive in the concrete jungle.
This year’s chosen recipients of the Fund were all very wise choices. Each designer provides pieces and collections that resemble and contribute to the current fashion of the new man and the new woman, both who take on personalities that are contemporary, straightforward, and cosmopolitan.
Public School’s designs are sure to elevate the modernism in menswear, and Alary and Obando will do the same for women.
Past winners of the award include the designers behind Proenza Schouler in 2004 and my personal favorite Alexander Wang in 2008, who also were designers ahead of the curve.
With the same dynamic in mind, hopefully this year’s talent will meet the same success as their predecessors.