Last summer, 10 finalists were named in the competition for the coveted CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, a prize that awards $300,000 to the winner and up to $100,000 for the runners-up -- no small amount for an emerging talent looking to expand his or her business. Since launching in 2003, the program has helped cement the careers of such upstarts as Alexander Wang, Phillip Lim, Derek Lam, Rodarte, and more.
Since Billy Reid was announced the winner last November, and Prabal Gurung and Eddie Borgo were named runners-up, it's no secret that their exposure and businesses have grown, in some cases dramatically. On Wednesday night, we caught up with the three Fashion Fund recipients at a party J.Crew held in their honor, that also happened to fete the launch of a series of collaborations between the designers and the successful retailer to be rolled out over the coming months.
While each designer had a singular take on how the prize -- and the accompanying mentorship -- had affected their labels in the past year, winner Billy Reid pointed out that, in many ways, the most important element of the process was the confidence boost -- the sheer fact of a group of talented insiders saying, "You're on the right track."