Pyer Moss, Telfar, Christopher John Rogers Win CFDA Awards
By: Lauryn Jiles
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) held its annual awards on Monday, September 14, where they recognize outstanding talents in the industry. This year, three Black designers took home awards in three out of the six categories. This year’s winners included Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss: American Menswear Designer of the Year, Telfar Clemens of Telfar: American Accessories Designer of the Year, and Christopher John Rogers: American Emerging Designer of the Year.
Earlier this year, the CFDA announced initiatives to create change and implement diversity in the fashion industry. In an Instagram post, they stated, “The CFDA will create an in-house employment program specifically charged with placing Black talent in all sectors of the fashion business to help achieve a racially balanced industry. This program will be tasked with identifying Black creatives and pairing these individuals with companies looking to hire. The CFDA will also create a mentorship and internship program focused on placing Black students and recent graduates within established companies in the fashion sector.”
Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond founded his brand, Pyer Moss, in 2013. After taking home the CFDA Fashion Fund prize over two years ago, Jean-Raymond has become a force to be reckoned with. Just this week, he has taken home awards for Menswear Designer of the Year for the CFDA and Fashion Designer of the Year for Harlem’s Fashion Row. His designs have been worn by celebrities like Zendaya, Caleb Mclaughlin, and Lil Nas X and earlier this year the designer appeared as a guest judge on the Netflix reality show, “Next in Fashion.”
Pyer Moss’s latest collection highlighted Black excellence in the industry. The show featured a performance from singer Brent Faiyaz, featured all Black models, and an all-Black choir that performed while the models walked down the runway. The show took place in East Flatbush, Brooklyn where the designer grew up. ELLE Magazine revealed that Jean-Raymond wanted the fashion show attendees to see the streets he walked on as a kid— his America. In an interview with HypeBeast, Jean-Raymond discussed the art behind his brand and what patriotism means for Black people.
His latest fashion show was the third part of the designer’s series titled “American, Also,” which highlighted Black excellence and our contribution to American pop culture. Jean-Raymond also decided to use an all-black choir to pay homage to Sister Rosetta Tharpe and highlight the Black church. “I think relatively few people know that the sound of rock and roll was invented by a queer black woman in a church. I wanted to explore what that aesthetic might have looked like if her story would have been told,” Kerby Jean-Raymond said in an interview with Vogue.com.
Telfar Clemens took home the CFDA award for Accessory Designer of the Year for his fashionable and trendy tote bags. The bags, which are available in three different sizes, have become extremely popular, now a staple wardrobe piece that sells out seconds after restocking. Both affordable and luxurious, Telfar bags have become the new status symbol. “The fact is – a few years ago there was no genderless, accessibly priced, black-owned bag, period – and also there was no one to wear it,” Clemens said in an interview for Dazed.
Telfar became so popular this year that the brand launched a bag security program: a 24-hour window that allows shoppers to pre-order the tote bags that quickly sell out. Although Telfar has been producing the bags since 2014, thanks to social media, the brand skyrocketed to success this year. The bags, ranging from $150-$257, have become a signature product in a time where supporting Black-owned businesses is extremely important within the community.
Christopher John Rogers
The winner for Emerging Designer of the Year for the 2020 CFDA Awards is Christopher John Rogers. The 26-year-old designer is making a name for himself, with his designs being worn by the likes of Michelle Obama, Gabrielle Union, Rihanna, and more. Neon meets chic in Rogers’ latest Fall 2020 collection. The collection, which featured over 40 designs, showcased diversity on the runway featuring Black women in their natural hair wearing bright and bold neon colors.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Rogers talks about growing up, being Black in the fashion industry, and his brand post-COVID.
“Black women understood why I didn’t shy away from color and from showing off the body in some garments, but in other garments completely obscured it in a way where the clothes still read as femme without having to be overly body-conscious,” Christopher John Rogers told Vanity Fair.
In the interview with Vanity Fair, Rogers describes the importance of representation and diversity. “I went to majority-Black elementary and middle schools, so I was looking at Black inventors, writers, or historical figures from a young age. I became obsessed with Black fashion designers. I knew of Lawrence Steele and Ann Lowe and Patrick Kelly. I found LaQuan Smith on Tumblr when I was in middle school. I always knew that there was a possibility for me if I worked hard enough—that’s an important part of the representation. The more you see yourself in things, the more empowered you feel to be able to go for those things,” Rogers told Vanity Fair.