Awards nominations invariably bring out the critic in people ('You call that Best Picture?') and I confess that I'm a bit of a squeaky wheel in this regard. I still haven't recovered from Tom Ford's Single Man not getting nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award -- hopefully, with more years of therapy, I'll learn to live with this. It was therefore surprising to me that I was so satisfied with yesterday's nominee announcements for this year's CFDA Fashion Award for Womenswear Designer of the Year. Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler and the Row are three very different fashion brands but all are award-worthy and each gave a stellar presentation last month during New York Fashion Week. Here's why I'm backing all three as winners:
Marc Jacobs is the Meryl Streep of fashion, so nominating him for any award is a bit of a 'duh' moment. And as with Meryl, although you really think Marc deserves the award each time, a part of you also thinks they should give it someone else since Marc always wins. But could anyone who saw his Fall 2012 presentation last month doubt for a second that Marc deserves the award (not to mention his equally spectacular Louis Vuitton presentation in Paris)? The clothes were amazing. Every fashion girl will be wearing pilgrim shoes with rhinestone buckles and disco socks this fall. But what sets Jacobs apart is that he's a beacon of sincerity and sentimentality in a sea of cool and fierce fashion. Although he'll be forever labeled the coolest designer in the universe, Jacobs' shows bring a humble warmth that's lacking in our cynical style world. In both aforementioned shows, Jacobs didn't feature models who looked like cuntier-than-thou vixens strutting to a throbbing disco beat. They looked like sweet, real girls ambling self-consciously along a fairy-tale set by artist Rachel Feinstein to a medley of "Who Will Buy?" from the musical Oliver! (sample lyric: 'Who will buy this wonderful feeling? I'm so high I swear I could fly.') Half the time I end up crying at Marc's shows because there's a sweetness and sentimentality that he gets me with every time.
Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler don't really serve up sentimentality, but season after season they prove that no designer in America is as influential when it comes to the direction of fashion. Seeing the new Asian-inspired silhouette they sent down the runway this season, you can understand how one brand's strong vision can drive fashion. It's similar to how Christian Dior debuting a new silhouette changed the direction of fashion everywhere. From the beginning, the boys have managed to pull off a seemingly contradictory balance: The clothes are outrageously chic but still youthful and cool. Proenza Schouler could honestly win this award every year and it would be well-deserved.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's The Row are the new kids on the block, having been nominated for the Swarovski Award for up and coming Womenswear designer just last year. Although they're relatively new to runway presentations, the collection they sent out at the Carlyle Hotel last month was as chic and polished as anything we saw on the runway this season. While there's no Dr. Seuss-inspired whimsy or direction-changing silhouette from the Row, their clothes are outrageously gorgeous clothes. And in the end, isn't that what earns the award?
CFDA Awards 2012 Nominees