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  • Ali Webb

Tom Ford Shakes Up the CFDA Board

We're just three days out from the official start of the CFDA New York Fashion Week schedule for Spring 2020, when the industry will begin to see Tom Ford's vision for the organization take place. After taking over the board's chair position from Diane von Furstenberg earlier this year, the accomplished designer first shook up the status quo by announcing he was making NYFW just five days and five nights, and though whether the semiannual event is really shorter is up for debate since IMG's shows still span a full week, the upcoming schedule certainly has a different feel. But before the world even has a chance to see the results of the change, Ford has announced changes to the CFDA's board that are sure to spark a new collective vision going forward.

After holding an initial meeting with the existing board, Ford heard members' thoughts about what was working and not working, ultimately finding that one of the biggest concerns was having diversity reflect that of the rapidly changing industry. Younger designers, especially those of color, have been making their mark to significant acclaim, so in an effort to give these groups more representation on the board, Ford appointed four new members, each of whom is a familiar name among New York's fashion community. The new class includes Virgil Abloh, who has become somewhat of an industry celebrity with his crowd-attracting collections for Off-White and now is also creative director for Louis Vuitton menswear; Carly Cushnie, who has been running her eponymous brand on her own after ten years in partnership with Michelle Ochs; Kerby Jean-Raymond, last year's CFDA Fashion Fund winner who has brought attention to black experiences through multimedia shows; and Maria Cornejo, an original member of the CFDA's Sustainability Committee whose brand, Zero + Maria Cornejo, has attracted acclaim and high-profile clients for its artful minimalism.

Clockwise from top left: Carly Cushnie, Kerby Jean-Raymond, Virgil Abloh, Maria Cornejo

In addition to adding these new voices to the board, Ford has changed four members to emeritus status, in which they will no longer vote but will sometimes offer opinions. Two of these moves seem to speak to recent industry controversies: Georgina Chapman, who has been scrambling to move her brand Marchesa beyond its controversial associations to her ex-husband Harvey Weinstein, is out; so is Kara Ross, the jewelry designer whose husband, billionaire developer Stephen Ross, held a Trump fundraiser last month that thrust the political implications of many prominent brands into discussion. While Ford insists Ross' rotation has nothing to do with the recent controversy, her move and Chapman's definitely make a statement whether intentional or not.

The other two designers exiting their voting positions are Marcus Wainwright of Rag & Bone and jewelry designer Mimi So. In addition to the board changes, Ford will be restructuring the CFDA's events into two annual conferences, one in New York and one in Los Angeles, and has established a non-designer advisory board, which brings the voices of business executives, stylists, and editorial heavyweights to the table. Overall, it looks like the organization's activities are worth watching closely in the near future to see how Ford's inclusive-in-several-respects approach pans out when it comes to major decisions. But first, fashion week.

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