The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and Vogue Magazine have announce the ten finalists for the fifth-annual CFDA/VOGUE Fashion Fund initiative, which provides financial support and business mentorship for emerging designers. Since its inception in 2003, the program has granted $1.8 million to fifteen different design companies, including Alexander Wang, Derek Lam, Phillip Lim, Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, and Vena Cava amongst others. The CFDA/VOGUE Fashion Fund is generously sponsored by partner the Gap, underwriters American Express, Appleman Foundation, Barneys New York, Coach, Evgeny Lebedev, Hudson Bay Trading Company, Juicy Couture, Kellwood Company, Liz Claiborne Inc, L’Oréal Paris, Nordstrom, Theory and VOGUE.

At the end of July, the CFDA/VOGUE Fashion Fund Selection Committee will meet with each finalist to review their current collections and to conduct in-depth interviews. Subsequently, Committee members will make site visits to the design studio of each finalist. The winner(s) will be announced at a gala dinner in New York City on November 16.

The CFDA/VOGUE Fashion Fund was established to help emerging American design talent find continued success in the business of fashion. It is expected that the awards ($200,000 to the winner and up to $50,000 each to two runners-up) will be used to further develop each designer’s business in such areas as marketing, public relations, production and sales. In addition to the cash prizes, the award also includes mentorship from a panel of corporate funders and industry professionals whose expertise is tailored to the designers’ needs and future goals. Past mentors include Howard Socol, Rose Marie Bravo, Millard “Mickey” Drexler, Mark Lee and Domenico de Sole.

In 2007, the CFDA/VOGUE Fashion Fund created a separate Business Advisory Committee to review the applications of the ten CVFF finalists (independently of the Selection Committee) with the intent of providing a more focused business perspective and targeted feedback on the designers’ future potential in the business. The Business Advisory Committee will also be available to the seven finalists (who are not chosen as a winner / runner-up) as an on-going resource for mentoring, questions & answers and guidance.

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