The 2019 CFDA Awards Left Black Designers Empty-Handed Again


Alek Wek attends the CFDA Fashion Awards at the Brooklyn Museum of Art on June 03, 2019 in New York City. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris (Getty Images)

Well, once again, it wasn’t a winning year for black talent at the 2019 CFDA Awards—but we outchea, nevertheless.

Dubbed the “Oscars of Fashion,” hopes were high for a win for a black designer on Monday night at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, as Virgil Abloh (Off-White), Kerby Jean-Raymond (Pyer Moss), Telfar Clemons (Telfar Global) and Heron Preston had garnered five nominations between them (sadly, no black women made the cut this year).

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The CFDA Awards ceremony did manage to get even more colorful in the hosting department, this year recruiting comedians Jessica Williams and Hasan Minhaj to share the duties that the first woman of color host Issa Rae held down solo in 2018. But the honors proved more elusive this year, as all of the black designers went home empty-handed, and the special honors that were bestowed on the likes of Naomi Campbell and Edward Enninful last year went to an all-white roster of talent (minus Jennifer Lopez, who won this year’s Fashion Icon Award).

But as they say, it’s an honor just to be nominated, and while we’d love to see bigger returns on the industry’s “diversity and inclusion” initiatives we’re proud to have at least seen higher representation at this year’s CFDAs. And, of course, we once again showed out on the event’s red carpet, reminding the fashion crowd that when it comes to style, you can always bet on black.

Virgil Abloh in Louis Vuitton

Cindy Bruna in Angelys Balak x Anna della Russo

Winnie Harlow in Christian Siriano

Teyana Taylor (l) and Iman Shumpert in Thom Browne

Halima Aden in Tommy Hilfiger

Elaine Welteroth (l) and Aurora James

Jessica Williams in Thom Browne

June Ambrose in Bibhu Mohapatra

Swae Lee (r) in Telfar Clemens (l)

Kat Graham in Oscar de la Renta

Veronica Webb (l) in custom Eric Javits (r)

Hannah Bronfman in Kate Spade New York

Alek Wek (r) in Rosie Assoulin (l)

Ayesha Sesay (r) in Christopher John Rogers (l)

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And special shoutouts are due to CFDA nominee and Vogue Fashion Fund winner Kerby Jean-Raymond, who traveled with a pastel-colored, Pyer Moss-clothed crew. His gorgeously coordinated entourage included Joey BadA$$, supermodel Joan Smalls, Jhené Aiko, A$AP Ferg—and, miraculously, activist Deray McKesson, minus his once-ubiquitous blue Patagonia vest (which he was seen wearing as recently as Saturday over his Lion King-themed outfit at the Wearable Art Gala).

Jean-Raymond, you made black history on Monday night… and The Root crew celebrates you. Free at last! *sniff*