Winner’s Circle

CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Honors Emerging Talent

Tom Ford talks about nude beaches, Baz Luhrmann pays tribute to Anna Wintour’s 25 years at Vogue, and design duo Public School takes home the $300,000 prize.

Billy Farrell/, via Sipa

Ten years since its conception in 2003, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund has helped propel the careers of some of fashion's biggest names: Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler, Joseph Altuzarra. On Monday evening, at the fund’s annual dinner and award ceremony, NYC-based urban street wear line Public School—helmed by design duo Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne—took home the $300,000 first place prize. Fine jewelry designer Marc Alary and Juan Carlos Obando, a LA-based womenswear and accessories designer, were named runners up, each receiving $100,000.

Anna Wintour, dressed in Marc Jacobs, and CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg stayed close, greeting guests as they arrived for cocktail hour. Orlando Bloom, Allison Williams, Christina Ricci, Orange is the New Black star Taylor Schilling, and a slew of NBA players—Kevin Garnett, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul Pierce—joined the festivities at Spring Studios in Tribeca for the usual champagne and chicken pot pie. This year’s finalists included menswear designer Todd Snyder—who was accompanied by Matthew Broderick and Olympic fencer Miles Chamley-Watson—Misha Nonoo, Jason Jones and Mike Feldman of Parabellum, Ryann Lobo and Ramon Martin of Tome, Shimon Ovadia and Ariel Ovadia of Ovadia & Sons, Tim Copens, and Veronica Beard’s Veronica Swanson Beard and Veronica Miele Beard.

Every November, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund honors emerging designers, fostering their talent with funding and professional mentorships. The fund, which was created in the wake of September 11th when the fashion industry was suffering from the struggling economy, has come a long way since its first presentation in a space donated by Carolina Herrera.

Actress Julianne Moore, dressed in a sparkling, maroon-colored Tom Ford dressed introduced the designer by reminiscing on the first time they met in 1998. “It was just after my first Academy Award nomination,” she said, “and Tom Ford invited me to the Beverly Hills Hotel to try on a dress he’d made especially for me… I was very nervous. I never met a designer before and I wasn’t feeling very glamorous. I had my four-month-old baby boy with me and I had gigantic boobs. He assured me that if I didn’t feel comfortable in his dress, it was fine. He said ‘Wear it, don’t wear it. It’s a dress, don’t worry about it’… I didn’t wear that dress. And I was always sorry… Since then I’ve worn many things Tom assigned to me, always to much acclaim. He has never let me down.”

A dapper Ford then took the stage in a black tuxedo, providing insight into the fashion industry (how it is truly the most difficult field to succeed in) and laughing about the time he ran into Anna Wintour at a nude beach in St. Barts.

“It was the early nineties and I was not very well known,” recalled Ford. “I had a better body and just was always naked. I used to walk up and down the beach with Richard [Buckley] (Ford’s life partner)… and every now and then we’d see Anna walk by. One day she said ‘Hello, Tom.’ I stopped and was so excited. Oh, my god Anna Wintour knows who I am. We talked for a little while… and I leaned in to kiss her goodbye and I realized ‘Oh my god, I’m absolutely naked.’ And it was like one of those dreams who have in high school, where you go to school and you’re naked and everyone else has clothes, except it was real. Anyway I pulled myself back and didn’t actually kiss her, and I walked away and was just like ‘Ugh’. It was the last time I was ever naked on a public beach.”

Surprise guest, director Baz Luhrmann, also made a quick cameo (sneaking out of the Glamour Women of the Year Awards where his wife, Catherine Martin, was being honored) to present a short film dedicated to Anna Wintour (whom he referred to as “a lightening rod to culture”) and her 25 years at Vogue. A diverse group including Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Seth Meyers, Grace Coddington, and the Proenza Schouler duo flashed on the screen, describing Wintour as “maternal” and “kind.”

After much anticipation, laughs, and many a standing ovation, Moore and Ford announced that Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School had won.

“To say we are tremendously humbled is an understatement,” Osborne said, before giving a special shout out to Tommy Hilfiger, his seat mate for the evening (he explained that his first fashion job was working at the designer’s West Broadway store ten years ago). The duo also thanked mentor—and former CVFF finalist—Prabal Gurung for his assistance and support.