An enthusiastic, Gucci-suited James Corden hosted the 2017 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runway show poolside at the Chateau Marmont on Wednesday, introducing the annual event as “the Super Bowl for people who don’t watch the Super Bowl,” and suggesting that, given the sweltering heat, next year’s event should be held with the guests in the pool instead of clustered around it. “I think we’d have a damn good time!” he said.
Everyone seemed to be having a damn good time anyway — thanks to a short-and-sweet runway show that presented five looks from each of the 10 Fashion Fund finalists in about 13 minutes start-to-finish, leaving the impressively celebrity-heavy crowd free to either shuffle off or hang poolside, sip Perrier Jouet Champagne and meet the designers, which many opted to do.
The finalists vying for the top prize of $400,000 and a designer mentorship (with two runners-up receiving $150,000 each) this year are: eyewear designer Ahlem Manai-Platt (Ahlem); Becca Mccharen-Tran (Chromat); Christopher Bevans (Dyne); jewelry designer Matthew Harris (Mateo New York); Eli Azran (RTA); Patric Dicaprio, Bryn Taubensee, David Moses and Claire Sully (Vaquera); Telfar Clemens (Telfar LLC); and Victor Glemaud, Jordan Askill and Sandy Liang, who design for the labels that bear their names.
Once again presented by Kate Spade New York, this year’s showcase had much the same “fashion happening” vibe that made last year’s event so much fun. This time around there were futuristic athleisure-clad robots (courtesy of Dyne), dancers wearing fly-away Telfar tops, ribbon-waving stilt-walkers decked out in colorful Victor Glemaud, Jordan Askill’s flower-crowned ladies of the canyon and fuzzy-collared and cuffed models walking equally fuzzy dogs down the catwalk (Sandy Liang).
What at first seemed to be an interruption — a pair of hyper-excited photo-snapping paparazzi appearing out of nowhere to trail a trio of starlets around the pool — turned out to be the most memorable presentation of all because the photographers, starlets — and their ear-pieced bodyguards — all happened to be sporting distinctive sunnies by Ahlem.
The annual West Coast presentation is the penultimate event for the finalists before the winner and runners-up are announced at a New York City gala on Nov. 6. Last year’s winner was L.A.-based Brock Collection’s Laura Vassar Brock and Kristopher Brock, who have been mentored by Tom Ford for the last year.
All three of those designers were poolside Wednesday along with a constellation of entertainment- and fashion-industry stars that included original “Hamilton” cast members Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom Jr., Selma Blair, Laverne Cox, Zendaya, Millie Bobby Brown, models Kaia and Presley Gerber, jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth (whose dog Teddy had a runway moment of his own accompanying one of the Sandy Liang looks), Anna Wintour, Tracee Ellis Ross, Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy (runners-up in the 2006 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fun competition), Zac Posen, past winners Billy Reid (who took home the award in 2010) and Greg Chait (2012) and the pop-band sister act of Este, Danielle and Alana Haim.
When we struck up a conversation with the sisters after the show, they hinted that a group Halloween costume was in the works. “It involves dresses that are all the same color and bonnets,” Este said.
“The Haim-Maids Tale”? We’d watch that.
For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me at @ARTschorn.
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