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The Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue Magazine have announced the finalists for their Fashion Fund Award. And the (Asian-American) nominees are... Jean Yu and Derek Lam!
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and Vogue Magazine have named this year’s finalists for their second annual Fashion Fund Award. Competition for the six-figure prize is fierce, as the publicity they will receive for winning may prove more beneficial than the cash. Last year, three Asian-American designers were among the finalists; this year, the lingerie virtuoso Jean Yu and the ever-popular Derek Lam, who was also nominated last year, were members of this elite group.
The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award encourages and enables emerging designers to execute their visions of making the world a more aesthetically pleasing place. They are awarded with a hefty financial prize, $200,000 for the winner and $50,000 for two runner-ups, and a team of business mentors comprised of established industry professionals. Last year’s winners, the hip New York design duo at Proenza Schouler, have garnered enormous publicity since, not to mention a significant increase in clientele. Although none of the Asian-American designers nominated in 2004 (Peter Som, Doo-ri Chung, and Derek Lam) took home prizes, they were all commended for their sartorial excellence and received considerable exposure as nominees.
APA wishes all ten designers the best of luck, but quite frankly, we’re rooting for Jean Yu and Derek Lam! Check out their profiles to see why.
Underneath It All: Jean Yu
Jean Yu’s collections have a distinctly feminine appeal, by combining fluid fabrics with meticulous architecture-like seams. Her collections are comprised mostly of flowing dresses and lingerie of silk chiffon, charmeuse, and georgette, with a simple palette of mostly black, white, and nude. But she offers a new spin on underpinnings: you won’t see any lace, wires, or padding in her pieces, because they are made to glorify a woman’s body as is. She hopes to create undergarments in shades of silk to match every skin color. The lingerie collection was launched to accompany her body-skimming dresses. “There should be no distinction between the lining and the outer fabric,” Yu said.
Yu designs with a specific customer in mind -- the woman who has everything. After all, the average shopper would not be able to discern and appreciate the subtle nuances in her pieces, let alone afford $300 panties. This idea was materialized in her Manhattan boutique, 37=1 Atelier, located a block from the touristy street Broadway, on SoHo’s ‘locals-only’ Crosby Street. Yu’s ideal client is a woman who is not only refined and attractive, but also intelligent and powerful. She admires Coco Chanel, and said, “She was very smart and very sexy. She really seduced them with her intelligence. Not in a tits-and-ass kind of way.” Yu has a refreshing outlook in light of society’s emphasis on sex and Barbie-like ideals of attractiveness.
Korean-born Yu grew up in Los Angeles, but arrived in New York in 1990 to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She produced her first dresses in 1992, for a school project. Not too long after, she designed a line of dresses that was picked up by luxury superstores Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Fred Segal, Harvey Nichols, and Louis Boston, as well as stores in Japan. In 1999, she was awarded with The Innovator Design Award from Cotton Incorporated. Yu had reinvented herself by 2001 with her brand new silky lingerie and dress collections, and with the opening of her SoHo store. Worldwide attention was given to Yu when she a dress of hers made the cover of Vogue in April 2004, on a megastar no less than Gwen Stefani.
The Daring Derek Lam
Derek Lam is no stranger to the fashion scene. It’s no surprise that he’s the heavy favorite of the competition, especially after being the only designer to be nominated twice. He catapulted into fame in 2004 with his collection that sought to redefine American sportswear. Lam uses luxurious fabrics like raw silk and various wools, and unlike Yu, chooses stiffer materials that hold their exquisitely tailored shape rather than drape on a woman’s body. Lam’s clothing collections have earned a permanent spot in the world of high-end retailers, and continues to expand into resort and accessories.
For the past six seasons, Lam has consistently produced tailored collections with classic yet modern shapes, unique patterns in brocades and jacquards, and a certain easiness to each piece. These crisp silhouettes are worn by everyone from actresses like Jennifer Connelly and Alexis Bledel to socialites like Olivia Chantecaille and Victoria Traina, to the Bush twins. At this point, if you don’t already own something by Derek Lam, you should probably invest immediately. The fashion world seems to think so; aside from being nominated for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award twice, he won the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award for new designers and the Swarovski Perry Ellis Award for new designers.
The California-bred Lam is based primarily in New York, although he has worked in Hong Kong. (He named Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love as inspiration for his Spring 2004 collection.) Lam is a graduate from Parsons School of Design, and worked for Michael Kors for 12 years before launching his own line. He quickly bounced back from the poor reception of his first collection, and practically had buyers kicking down his door by the second one. After unveiling his Fall 2004 collection, he was described as having the attitude and craftsmanship of a veteran designer. This year, for his Spring 2006, he departs from the enchanting inspirations of Singaporean affairs and Bohemian opulence to pursue a ‘paradise lost’ look. Regardless of his theme, Lam has demonstrated that he can do no wrong when it comes to clothing design.
Date Posted: 11/3/2005