The 2019 CFDA Awards Left Black Designers Empty-Handed Again—But We Stay Winning

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).


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.


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 all-black 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*


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Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.