Honoring An Activist And Fashion Industry Role Model : Code Switch : NPR: The Council of Fashion Designers of America awards (the CFDA) are the fashion industry's equivalent of the Oscars: big, glittery, hugely prestigious. The red carpet before and after the ceremony is avidly watched. Unlike the Chambre Syndicale, which regulates France's couture and related industries, the CFDA is more of a reflector, an influencer — and, perhaps, a bellwether.
On Monday night, fashionable celebrities and celebrity designers walked the red carpet in front of Lincoln Center to celebrate the industry's best. Awards were handed out to myriad designers (Raf Simons of Dior, Joseph Altuzarra, the Olsen twins, Ashley and Mary-Kate, whose fashion house The Row has become influential). One of the most significant was given to someone who is in and of the industry, but she's an activist and advocate, too.
The Founder's Award was given to Bethann Hardison, a former couture model, model agency owner and now, activist for diversity in an industry that is periodically criticized for having little or none. (There is a smattering of Asian and pale Latina models on runways and in print ads, but proportionately speaking not many.)