Strictly defined, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize consists of money — $300,000 for the winner, $100,000 for runners-up — and "business mentoring." More loosely defined, it gives up-and-coming designers a ton of positive visibility. Vogue covers them extensively through online videos and slick editorials. For the past two years, J. Crew has partnered with the winners on a capsule collection, presented with much fanfare in their catalogue and on their website (and, again, touted heavily in Vogue). This year, all ten finalists have developed exclusive pieces for luxury e-commerce site TheCorner.com. This kind of exposure is arguably much more valuable than the money component of the prize.
This year's winner is Greg Chait of five-year-old L.A.-based label The Elder Statesman, and the runners-up are shoe designer Tabitha Simmons and Jennifer Meyer Maguire of the jewelry label Jennifer Meyer. Chait's known for his relaxed chunky knits, cashmere blankets, striped pullovers, and beanie caps, as well as his impressive facial hair; he's relatively little-known in the New York fashion world. Simmons, on the other hand, has already won quite a bit of recognition: She received this year's CFDA Swarovski Award for Accessory Design, and her shoes have been featured in multiple shows at New York Fashion Week. Meanwhile, Meyer is known for her signature diamond-studded leaf charm necklaces as well as her Hollywood connections: She's married to actor Tobey Maguire, and her dad is Universal Studios president Ron Meyer (it thus comes as no surprise that she has an impressive list of celebrity clients).
The other seven nominees — Suno’s Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty; Daniel Silberman and Alina Silberman; A.L.C.’s Andrea Lieberman; Assembly New York’s Greg Armas; Giulietta’s Sofia Sizzi; Illesteva’s Justin Salguero, Jennifer Fisher, and Wes Gordon — will still get their share of attention too. And the CFDA does love a repeat nominee, so there's always next year!