We'll admit that, when Bloomberg announced he was creating a Project Runway-inspired "fashion incubator" with the CFDA in the Garment District to foster up-ad-coming talent in New York by giving designers a brilliantly-architected space to work, we had our own ideas about what said roster of talent would look like. Somehow, we imagined the selected dozen would be comprised mostly of designers we'd seen perhaps at the Brooklyn Flea only -- and we'd nudge our friend with glee and say, "I know her!"
Interestingly, however, it seems the 12 finalists selected for said incubator are a mix of fairly under-the-radar talents and designers -- like CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund recipient Sophie Theallet -- have already won fashion awards. Looking at the lineup, we were frankly surprised to see so much talent that is -- at least by industry standards -- rather well known. Sophie Theallet won $200,000 from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund late last year, and two of her competitors for that title are also included in the incubator: Waris Ahluwalia of House of Waris and Justin Giunta of Subversive Jewelry. Prabal Gurung is also quite well-known at this point, both for dressing more than a few starlets of late and for winning the Ecco Domani award this past year ($25,000).
It seems to be, however, that the qualifications to meet in order to share studio space at 209 West 38th Street for a year were rather more intense than we could have imagined: Designers selected had to show that they'd received “substantive editorial coverage” and already had orders in from well-regarded boutiques -- certainly not the kinds of things than any barely-making-it beginnner designer would be able to put forth.
Rounding out the finalists are a rather varied mix -- Alice Ritter is well-regarded in boutique circles, as is Grant Krajecki of Grey Ant and Alison Lewis of Lewis. The other designers are the sort we were most looking forward to -- the ones we'll have to learn more about: Bibhu Mohapatra, Rachel Dooley with Gemma Redux, Joel Diaz with Jolibe, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School, and Yuvi Alpert and Danna Kobo of Ruby Kobo.