the Council of Fashion Designers of America

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, or CFDA for short, is a not-for-profit trade association for American based fashion and accessory designers. And if you're finding yourself still asking "But what is it?" don't feel silly. I had to do quite a bit of research myself to figure it out.

Founded in 1962 by Eleanor Lambert, a prominent fashion publicist of the time, the CFDA is intended to be an organization committed to furthering American fashion and providing support for budding and well established designers. It aims to educate both industry insiders and non-fashion folk regarding the business side of fashion and what it takes to succeed (and stay successful) in such a demanding field.

Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen accepting their award for Womenswear Designer(s) of the Year for their line The Row. The twin duo also won for womenswear in 2012 and accessories in 2014. image via Bustle.com

The organization offers a number of scholarships for high school, college, and postgrad students; hosts the CFDA Fashion Awards every year; and runs the CFDA/Vogue Fasion Fund competition in which young designers compete for a hefty cash prize and invaluable mentoring from an industry veteran of their choosing. Previous winners of the competition include Aurora James for Brother Vellies, Paul Andrew, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne for Public School, Joseph Altuzarra for Altuzarra, and Alexander Wang.

the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund 2015 finalists with some board members. image via Fashionista.com

In addition to the organization's educational endeavors, the CFDA has also held a number of charitable events supporting research and treatment for HIV/AIDS, sending relief to Haiti, Japan, and areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. In 1994 Ralph Lauren launched the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer program, which has since become a yearly event pulling in nearly $55 million to put towards breast cancer charities world wide.

So as you can see, the CFDA is no joke. It's influence reaches far beyond the borders of the U.S. and to be on it's Board of Directors is considered a huge honor. Diane von Furstenberg is the current CFDA President with her board consisting of fashion heavy hitters like Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Anna Wintour, Jenna Lyons, Tracy Reese, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren.

Fast Facts:
- They have over 430,000 followers on twitter
- At the 2013 CFDA Fashion Awards Hillary Clinton presented Oscar de la Renta with the Founder's Award, the highest honor of the night
- The CFDA has collaborated with a number of designers on fashion and accessories lines at a variety of price points. Previous collaborators include Target, Gap, J.Crew, and Kohl's
- The organization has published nine books
 

Jenna Lyons

Some consider J.Crew the best store to stock up on wardrobe staples, others think of it a place to splurge on one special piece. Either way J.Crew has surely solidified itself as a necessary American brand and much of the credit for that success is due to Creative Director Jenna Lyons, the woman who thinks sequins are the new black.

image via Glamour.com

Lyons first became creative director in 2008 and has worked for J.Crew since she was 21. "I was an assistant to an assistant" she told Cindi Leive in an interview with Glamour. Her actual title was assistant designer in menswear and her first task was to redesign men's rugby shirts for the brand. She quickly worked her way up the ranks to the point that now I can barely imagine a J.Crew without her. Her signature style of mixing well tailored basics with loud, sometimes over-the-top details like sequins or feathers has become the new norm for the brand. And if you think her outfits look like they have been copied and pasted from a J.Crew catalog, then you would be absolutely spot on. Lyons is responsible for changing the catalog to a "Style Guide" meant to more closely resemble a fashion magazine editorial. Her influence on the styling and design of the guide is undeniable and many see Lyons as completely synonymous with the J.Crew woman.

Lyons was born Judith, not Jenna, in Boston, MA but moved to Palos Verdes, CA at the age of four. She was born with a genetic condition called incontinentia pigmenti which causes scarring, hair loss, and tooth problems. She began taking sewing classes at 11 partly as a solution to the problem of finding clothes to fit her lanky frame and partly as an escape from the bullying endured from her classmates. it wasn't long however, before fellow students began admiring her talent as a budding designer. "A girl in social studies passed me a note saying, "I like your skirt." I was like, Is this for me? It was major (Glamour)." She was named one of Glamour magazine's Women of the Year in 2012 and currently holds a much revered position on the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Board of Directors. In the latter position she assists in choosing the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund finalists and winners.

images via 1. Instagram @theOutsiderBlog // 2. WhoWhatWear // 3. Jean Stories // 4. Vogue UK // 5. Vanity Fair // 6. Madame Le Figaro // 7. Elle // 8. How To Spend It // 9. WWD // 10. Jean Stories // 11. Vogue // 12. Where did U Get That // 13. Style and Forks // 14. Elle // 15. Popsugar

Fast Facts:
- Because of her genetic condition she wears dentures
- She graduated from Parsons Design School in 1990
- She has a son Beckett with artist Vincent Mazeau
- Lyons currently resides in Tribeca with her son and girlfriend Courtney Grangi
- She owns almost 300 pairs of shoes as seen in this video (and I want them all...)