Fashion's Oscars Are Here

Fashion's Oscars Are Here

Most industries have one big event a year — the type of night everyone counts down to, or goes on a half-hearted diet for two weeks prior, or agonizes about for months while planning the perfect look. Even in glamorous fields where big events, requiring professionally styled clothes and hair and makeup, are weekly, there's still the Oscars, the Grammys, the Tonys. For fashion, that's the CFDA Awards.

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The illustrious Council of Fashion Designers of America is comprised of fashion's most powerful forces, all of whom have had some influence on the apparel you are wearing right this moment. While Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour enjoys much hype as fashion's gatekeeper, it's CFDA chairman Diane von Furstenberg who is pulling the majority of the strings as to who ascends to fashion royalty. Not to mention, the CFDA Awards' red carpet have also given us some of the most memorable looks of the century (read: a naked Rihanna dripping in crystals and Beyoncé's hat).

So what are they all about, anyway? PAPER answers your key CFDA questions, below.

What exactly are the CFDA awarding?

The CFDA Awards are established designers and other industry pillars recognizing those who have exhibited enormous talent or otherwise have a heavy fashion footprint. There are four major awards: designer of the year for women's apparel, menswear and accessories, as well as an emerging designer of the year, each chosen from five finalists. There are also six honorees as handpicked by the council for contributions to the industry, lifetime achievement, media, fashion-meets-philanthropy (the Swarovski Award for Positive Change), international designer and fashion icon (cue Rihanna in crystals). This year a new category has been introduced: the Fashion Influencer award *tips hat to Instagram.*

Also — who are they awarding?

We don't know, yet. There are five nominees in each category, with womenswear seeing the likes of Raf Simons, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's The Row, and Virgil Abloh up for the top spot. Simons and Abloh are also contenders in the menswear category (as is streetwear giant, Supreme) and The Row is up for accessories too. See the full list of designers vying for each prize, here.

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As for the honorees, well, this is where things get particularly exciting, namely because they don't pull any punches when it comes to their looks for the evening. Donatella Versace is the international designer of choice this year, Naomi Campbell is your fashion icon, British Vogue's Edward Enninful will be recognized under the media category and Kim Kardashian West is receiving the Fashion Influencer award.

Who is presenting?

Feel free to pull out your shades because this star power is blinding. Those presenting include, but are not limited to: Cate Blanchett, Trevor Noah, Issa Rae, Lupita Nyong'o, Claire Danes and Busy Phillips. Issa Rae will, in fact, serve as MC — the first person of color to do so ever, and the first woman to assume the role since Tracey Ullman in 2009. This may be a part of fashion's recent, vital pivot to inclusiveness (as you might recall, it hasn't always been this way).

Could I go?

Great question. While we're not talking Met Gala price-per-ticket or exclusivity, it will still set you back $10,000 to attend, and $70,000 for a table. Last year 600 industry members attended, but also 400 fashion students — who go for free. Also present will be top stylists, photographers, retailers and so on. General fashion favorites, inescapable New York socialites, or top models will likely appear — sometimes on a top designer's arm. Several years ago, Bella Hadid was Virgil Abloh's get the drift. Regardless, you should have a close relationship to the industry if you want to go.

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In fact, Kim and Virgil appear to have something cooking as we speak. What will she wear? Will a Wyoming-fresh Kanye West be in tow? We're barely breathing.

Should I be excited?

Absolutely. This year is the year of the personality: not only is Kim Kardashian being honored in an entirely new category that was quite literally created for her, but fashion's fiercest ladies, Naomi Campbell and Donatella Versace are also at the forefront of tonight's festivities. Even if you don't give a hoot about who takes home the trophies, come for the looks, and stay for the inevitable memes.

Photo via Getty