The CFDA Awards: A Night of Glamour And Surprises
From touching musical tributes to Beyonce's guest appearance
From touching musical tributes to Beyonce's guest appearance
Text: Veronica Radyuk
Last night's CFDA Awards at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom was full of surprises. Both rising talents and icons were recognized, and trips down memory lane were made through speeches from winning designers and musical tributes for the late Prince and David Bowie. The audience experienced tears, laughs, and moments of grandeur.
The evening started off with a humorous, yet relatable video of a messenger being sent on a stressful mission to pick up and deliver items from some quite recognizable faces in the fashion industry. With a background track of Desiigner’s “Panda” playing, Thom Browne, Vera Wang, and Diane von Furstenberg made their appearances in the clip, proving that they can be talented and funny as well.
Joel McHale threw funny quips throughout the night, one of them focusing on how the event was not televised (an abundance of curse words were used in good measure throughout the night). Big names in the fashion industry were honored like Donna Karan, who received the Founder’s Award, and Norma Kamali who was presented the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. It was to no one’s surprise that Thom Browne would accept his Menswear Designer of the Year award in his statement short shorts, and Ansel Elgort literally tap-danced his way to center stage before announcing more of the evening’s winners with Karlie Kloss.
A heartwarming tribute was made to the late David Bowie, where Tilda Swinton gave a speech inspired by a letter she wrote to the singer when he passed. The actress emotionally told the audience that he was to be honored for, “All your colors, all your magic, all your vim and vigor.” Michael C. Hall, who starred in Bowie’s musical, Lazarus, then performed the musician’s classic hit “Changes.” As Hall hit the high notes, models wearing some of Bowie’s most iconic outfits graced the stage. It was a moment of celebration for both music and fashion. The ceremony also memorialized Prince, with Jennifer Hudson closing the show with a powerful rendition of “Let’s Go Crazy” in a gorgeous, glitter-embellished jumpsuit.
One of the most memorable moments of the evening, of course, was Beyoncé’s surprise appearance. Although many believed Kim Kardashian was going to be the no-brainer winner of the Fashion Icon award, Diane Von Furstenberg threw the audience a twist; without mentioning any names, the designer went on to list the achievements of the award recipient first, adding fuel to the excited fire that was present in the room. As soon as the Ivy Park fashion line was mentioned, it was only a matter of time before Queen Bey would make her way to the stage in an iconic fashion as always. The singer's hit track "Formation" began to play and cheers (and some excitement-inducing screams were heard). Beyoncé, wearing a glittery Givenchy suit and wide-brimmed hat (most likely inspired by one of her many prominent looks from Lemonade) and Furstenberg exchanged a long embrace with one another onstage, before the singer gave her beautiful speech. She paid homage to her grandmother and mother, talking about how much passion was placed in all the outfits they made for her growing up. She even went on to describe herself as Khaleesi, something many Game of Thrones fans out there probably can agree with.
The CFDA Awards brought a great deal of beauty and excitement to designers, musicians, and celebrities alike. Similar to the Met Gala, the event shows how a designer and a celebrity can pair up in a manner that combines tastes, executed in a red-carpet look that simply has onlookers gaze on in awe. Monday evening, beauty was truly in the hands of the beholders.
Beyonce's full speech can be found below:
“I feel so much love and I feel so proud right now. Thank you guys for this incredible honor. As long as I can remember, fashion has always been a part of my life. This effect on me actually started before I was born. Most of you guys don't know this, but my grandmother was a seamstress. My grandparents did not have enough money; they could not afford my mother's Catholic school tuition, so my grandmother sold clothes for the priests and the nuns and made the uniforms for the students in exchange for my mother's education. She then passed this gift down to my mother and taught her how to sew. When we were starting out with Destiny's Child, high-end labels, they didn't really want to dress four black country curvy girls, and we couldn't afford designer dresses or couture. My mother was rejected from every showroom in New York. But like my grandmother, she used her talent, her creativity to give her children their dreams. My mother, and my Uncle Johnny (God bless his soul), designed all of our first costumes and made each piece by hand, individually sewing hundreds of crystals and pearls, putting so much passion and love into every small detail. When I wore these clothes on stage, I felt like Khaleesi. I had an extra suit of armor. It was so much deeper than any brand name...
"My mother actually designed my wedding dress, my prom dress, my first CFDA Awards dress, and my first Grammy's dress, and the list goes on and on and on. And this, to me, is the true power and potential of fashion. It's a tool for finding your own identity, expression, and strength. It transcends style and is a time capsule of all of our greatest milestones. So to my mother, my uncle, my grandma, thank y'all. Thank you for showing me that having a presence is far more than the clothes you wear and your physical beauty. Thank you for showing me to never take no for an answer. Thank you for showing me how to take risks, work hard, and live life on my own terms. I want to say thank you to every designer that works tirelessly to make people feel like they can write their own story. Y'all are fairy godmothers, and magicians, and sculptors, sometimes even our therapists. I encourage you to not forget this power that you have, or take it lightly. We have an opportunity to contribute to a society where any girl can look at a billboard or a magazine cover and see her own reflection. The soul has no color, no shape, no form. Just like all of your work, it goes so far beyond what the eyes can see. And you have the power to change perception, to inspire and empower. And to show people how to embrace their complications and see the flaws and the true beauty and strength that's inside all of us..."