Last night Ovation aired the series premiere of Fashion Fund, which chronicles the process of the Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund. As a Fashion Fund finalist from 2011, I am supremely excited to see what this season and group has in store. Despite that fact that I was a guest at the winners dinner and I already know the results (as do most people with access to the Internet), I will be learning about all of these brands, save a couple, for the first time.
First comes the portfolio drop-offs at the CFDA headquarters. Ironically, while watching last night, I was laid out on the sofa with a bit of food poisoning and that knotted stomach brought back memories of the anxiety I felt as a prospective finalist at that same moment. My "book" took months to create, cost a down payment on a summer home upstate, and was created by the same team who used to design for Visionaire. This is your LIFE'S DREAM, so I wouldn't have done it any other way. You birth this "baby" of your company that has all your hopes and dreams and DNA wrapped in a prim, luxe package and hand it over to a girl that brings it over to a pile of 49 other "babies." It's nerve-wracking, but totally exhilarating.
Misha Nonoo drops off her portfolio.
The judges deliberate.
The judges deliberate.
Cut to the selection process where the judges (who include Anna Wintour, Diane Von Furstenberg, Neiman Marcus' Ken Downing, J.Crew's Jenna Lyons and Steven Kolb of the CFDA) fight for their favorites. Every season (three have been filmed) there are designers that don't get selected but are discussed on film, and sometimes it's not cute. In fact, sometimes it's brutal. But if these designers are watching they are getting the best advice in the business. "Lacking vision" = million dollar advice. "Looks like other people's stuff" = million dollar advice. If you are a kid in Ohio watching this show hoping to one day become a fashion designer... watch, listen, absorb. This is million dollar advice.
Then there's the pivotal call from Steven Kolb. Steven you are so sly! Occasionally working the "dramatic pause," he wracked the nerves of some of the designers on the other end of the line wondering if it was good news or bad. By the way, if you are called, you are in, and it is a very profound moment. You know from that moment on your career has taken a dramatic and unbelievable turn -- and that your life is theirs until November.
Public school get "the call."
Public School -- These guys ooze cool, and you can just imagine them taking the same path to success as a Rag and Bone. Designers always talk about their "brand" early on, sometimes prematurely. I can see a "brand" here.
Marc Alary Jewelry -- With a new jewelry designer emerging around every corner, this guy has his own voice. His designs feel, super original and he seems to come from a very honest place about his work. In an industry that tends to favor the ready-to-wear designer, I know that in order to succeed he needs the support. I like him, we'll see.