Seated at a long table were 10 judges with the future of the fashion industry in their hands: five women and five men; three were of Asian descent, and all extremely fair-skinned. From Anna Wintour to Diane von Furstenberg, the group is comprised of fashion veterans who are very much a part of Vogue’s insular world.
Refinery29 reached out to the CFDA in August to ask if the organization recognizes diversity beyond racial and gender identities (see: ability, size, socioeconomic background), and if there has ever been a Latinx or Black judge involved with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund; a representative for the organization declined to comment. The next morning, however, they followed up to note that Black designer Patrick Robinson was a judge in 2007 when he was executive vice president of design for Gap and Gapbody. That was 12 years ago.
But there's been progress made since. Earlier this month, the CFDA very quietly introduced two new judges, plus-size model Paloma Elsesser and Vogue.com Fashion News Director Chioma Nnadi, announcing the appointments with a post on its website. "The 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund has two new judges that we’re excited about!" the article began. "Elsesser has been making a statement for body positivity on fashion runways, stunning in such shows as Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Eckhaus Latta," the article continues. “Some girls,” as she puts it in her Instagram bio, “are bigger than others.” As for Nnadi, the CFDA calls her a powerful advocate for inclusivity and diversity in our industry.
“I’ve always been super energized by the quest for what’s new and what’s next in fashion, even long before I worked in the industry,” Nnadi tells the CFDA. “I also think it’s a real privilege for a designer at any level to open up their door and let you in on their process, so I’m really excited at the prospect of doing that with whole new generation of American talent.”
Nnadi and Elsesser join Joseph Altuzarra, Eva Chen, Mark Holgate, Jeffrey Kalinsky, Steven Kolb, Roopal Patel, Andrew Rosen, Diane von Furstenberg, and Anna Wintour on the panel.