How the Council of Fashion Designers of America – WWD began

How the Council of Fashion Designers of America – WWD began

How the Council of Fashion Designers of America – WWD began

The Council of Fashion Designers of America was founded by Eleanor Lambert in 1962, with the aim of taking designers out of the backstory of Seventh Avenue and bringing them into the spotlight. The mission was to help put American fashion on the map.

Lambert, originally from Crawfordsville, Ind., Studied sculpture and did fashion sketches and fashion reportage, which brought her to New York and a career that included roles as Press Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art and Press Director of the New York Institute of Clothing.

In 1942, Lambert spearheaded the first week of printing for designers, a suggested time to complement collections so that designers could cater to a targeted group of buyers from across the United States, and the first Coty Awards, a precursor to the CFDAs. Awards. In the 1960s, more than 200 buyers attended the New York seasonal collections, which began to rival the level of participation in the Paris fashion shows. Designers like Bill Blass and Geoffrey Beene had made their way from the back rooms, but there was still the pervasive feeling that Seventh Avenue was controlled by businessmen and manufacturers, who dominated the industry trade groups and the union agenda. .

At that time, the sens. Claiborne Pell and Jacob Javits had approached Lambert to participate in their development of a National Council of the Arts, which would promote painting, music, dance and fashion in the United States, but for fashion to be considered an acceptable form of American art, required the involvement of a non-profit organization rather than a commercial industry or business.

Lambert gathered a group of designers – including Blass, Norman Norell, Jane Derby, Luis Estevez, Rudi Gernreich, Donald Brooks, Arnold Scaasi, Sydney Wragge and Ben Zuckerman – to form the CFDA. According to its charter, which was filed on December 6, 1962, its mission was to “strengthen the position of fashion design as a recognized branch of American art and culture” and “advance its artistic and professional standards”. Within a month, other designers had joined.

“All I did was start it,” Lambert recalled during an interview with WWD in 2000. “I’ve always said that bringing people together as a community helps promote their identity as a whole. We were a group of people of equal qualifications and equal thoughts about moving forward. There is a difference between businessmen and artists. At the time I represented a coat manufacturer who was upset that he wasn’t included in one of our meetings, and I asked him, ‘Well, do you have a designer? I’ve never met him, “to which he replied,” he’s in the back room. That’s where he should be right? ‘”

The change in perception was almost instantaneous. The largest trading group before the CFDA was the New York Couture Group and only had recognized manufacturers as members. Many of them were content with the practice of traveling to Paris every season to buy couture dresses to make copies line by line, but Lambert convinced a large contingent to break up to join the CFDA.

“The main thing was to take away the creative designers and ‘creative’ was a very important word at the time,” Arnold Scaasi once recalled. “When he did it, it really took off.”

Lambert was instrumental in staging American fashion events around the world, including the 1973 “Battle of Versailles” designer showoff that put American talent on the global fashion radar. Bill BlasOscar de la Renta, Halston, Stephen Burrows and Anne Klein paraded for America, while Pierre Cardin, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro and Marc Bohan of Christian Dior paraded for Paris.

Lambert received the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1988 and the CFDA Industry Tribute Award in 1993. He died in 2003 at the age of 100.

Today, the CFDA has grown dramatically and has more than 500 of America’s best womenswear, menswear and accessories designers as members.

In addition to hosting the annual CFDA Awards, which recognizes the best talent in the industry, the organization owns the Fashion Calendar and stages New York Fashion Week: Men’s. The CFDA offers programs that support professional development and scholarships, including the CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund, the Geoffrey Been Design Scholarship Award, and the Liz Claiborne Design Scholarship Award.

In 2013, the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative was created to nurture, elevate and preserve apparel manufacturing in New York City. Member support is provided through the Strategic Partnerships Group, a high-profile group of companies that offer strategic opportunities to designers.

The CFDA Foundation Inc. is a separate non-profit organization organized to mobilize members to raise money for charitable causes. Through the foundation, the CFDA created and manages the global Fashion Targets Breast Cancer initiative, raises funds for HIV and AIDS organizations with events such as the previous Fashion’s Night Out and Seventh on Sale, and addresses the issue of children’s health. models with the CFDA Health Initiative.

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