The phrase “icon” is arguably overused these days, but when it comes to bridging the worlds of sports and fashion, tennis legend Serena Williams has earned her accolades. The serial Grand Slam champion has long been a fashion lover, bringing spicy (and occasionally controversial) ensembles to courts worldwide as well as launching her own label, S by Serena. On Monday night, her game-changing impact was recognized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America as Williams was honored as the CFDA’s 2023 Fashion Icon.
The CFDA’s new chairman, Thom Browne, dressed Williams for this year’s CFDA Awards, outfitting her in a curve-hugging, black sequined gown with a striped ribbon-corsetted back, paired with jewels from David Yurman and a coordinating balloon-sleeved cloak. On the step-and-repeat at New York City’s Museum of Natural History, Williams joined fellow celebs Mary J. Blige, Quinta Brunson, LaKeith Stanfield, and many of the fashion industry’s finest for what many have dubbed the “Oscars of Fashion,” sponsored by Amazon Fashion for the second year in a row.
Among this year’s nominees, there were only three Black designers — Christopher John Rogers (2021 American Womenswear Designer of the Year), Raul Lopez of Luar (2022 American Accessory Designer of the Year), and Brandon Blackwood (2022 nominee for American Accessory Designer of the Year) — none of whom walked away with awards this year. Nevertheless, there was one big win: Jamaican-born designer Rachel Scott, designer of Diotima and runner-up for this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award, took home the Shop With Google American Emerging Designer of the Year award, a hopeful nod to what’s next for an industry that has remained slow to recognize and support Black female designers. With recognition for Williams and Scott as well as previous CFDA nominee Aurora James, supermodel turned sustainable fashion entrepreneur Liya Kebede (Lemlem), Studio 189 co-founders Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, and CFDA President CaSandra Diggs on hand Monday night, that tide is hopefully turning.
Then, there were the trends, a must-see for any fashion-fueled event. While Spring-Summer 2024 collections recently took their stroll down the runways during Fall Fashion Month, several trends also emerged on the 2023 CFDA Awards red carpet, including a heavy emphasis on suit-inspired eveningwear, black-and-white palettes, oversized floral details, reconstructed denim and deconstructed knitwear, and statement handbags — in feathered, beaded, and miniature variations — worn by all genders. Who wore it best? Check out our 2023 CFDA Awards gallery below.
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