Luxury shoe designer Paul Andrew walked away the winner Nov. 4 for the Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund Award, but there were 10 top finalists spanning many areas of the industry.
The British-born, New York-based Andrew competed against a milliner, a handbag maker, an eyewear designer, a knitwear specialist and a sportswear lover, among other up-and-comers considered the most eclectic class in the award's 11-year history.
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Making it to the finals is a big deal as hundreds try for the $300,000 grant, plus a year of mentoring by a seasoned pro. Two runners-up received $100,000 each and a year of help. Here we present one gifty item per finalist.
PAUL ANDREW: He worked for Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Alexander McQueen for over 15 years leading up to his big moment. His tassel ankle bootie in python comes in a festive poppy red, $1,595.
RYAN ROCHE (runner-up): Raised in Idaho and based in upstate New York, Roche transitioned from childrenswear to whimsical knits for women. She often uses a women's cooperative in Nepal. Her shaggy cashmere cardigan in pale lavender has wide ribbing at the wrists, $725.
EVA FEHREN (runner-up): Eva Fehren is New York City native Eva Zuckerman and her business partner, Ann Gorga. She takes inspiration from the quirks and architecture of the city. Her dagger pendant is made of 18 karat blackened white gold with white diamonds, $3,700.
GREY ANT: Grant Krajecki, also in New York City, gave up designing clothes to focus strictly on eyewear. Beyonce, Rihanna and Lady Gaga are among his clients. He manufactures in limited quantities and likes to reinterpret the classics. Krajecki's Embassy glasses are a fresh take on aviators in matte silver with brown lenses, $390.
EDIE PARKER: Brett Heyman, who founded Edie Parker, is the acrylic handbag queen, offering fun, funky and elegant shapes. Her Minnie Halfhalf features silver confetti on one side and solid black on the other, with an interior mirror, $995.
WES GORDON: This was the second time the Atlanta-bred womenswear designer made it into the CFDA/Vogue Top 10. Educated at Central Saint Martins in London, he interned at Oscar de la Renta and Tom Ford. His designs sing young elegance. An open basketweave cardigan jacket was done in black and white, $1,990.
SIMON MILLER: He relies on Japanese textiles and is known for denim and hand-dyed indigo. Miller designs for men and women, with a New York showroom and a Los Angeles denim studio. He does a cozy navy blue wool flannel check work shirt (think the new lumbersexual) for men, $365.
TANYA TAYLOR: She pairs girly florals with neon green Mongolian fur trims, or a black leather overcoat with bright yellow collar and cuffs. There's a youthful exuberance in a metallic silver trench in a print of cameras, $1,195.
ORLEY: Guys can wear playful, too. Brothers Matthew and Alex Orley, along with Matthew's wife, Samantha Orley, run this knit-driven menswear brand. They've done full-on aqua, skinny trousers in white and moss green, and more classic-color V-neck sweaters and polo shirts. They do men's accessories, too, like an Italian merino knit scarf in a reversible jacquard pattern, $245.
GIGI BURRIS MILLINERY: Burris is on a mission to preserve luxury headgear. She's a Florida native who studied in Paris and apprenticed with couture milliner Leah Chalfen. Now in New York City, she works regularly with stylists and has a celebrity following, including Angelina Jolie and Rihanna. Her Dauphine cocktail hat is a hand-cut felt crown with peacock flue feathers and dangling Swarovski crystal trim, $400.
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