Looking Back on the CFDA’s 50th Anniversary: A Letter From Diane von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb

CFDA 50th Anniversary Flag



In 1962 fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert founded the CFDA.  She is the person who took the talented but anonymous designers out of the back rooms of Seventh Avenue and brought them into the limelight. Made up of a small group, including Bill Blass, Arnold Scaasi, and Pauline Trigere, CFDA’s mission was clear from the start: to recognize and promote fashion talent in the United States. As we celebrated our fiftieth anniversary and grew to over 400 members in 2012, it is clear that CFDA’s work today is consistent with its original mission.

The year 2012 started with “Impact: 50 Years of the CFDA,” an exhibition at the Museum at FIT and a companion book, published by Abrams, that explored the careers of CFDA’s most influential members over the last five decades. Stars of American Fashion also launched. This anniversary campaign is supported by 50 generous CFDA Members, who collectively contributed $2.5 million to create an endowment as the primary permanent asset of the CFDA. In addition, each created a star that is part of a CFDA flag hanging in our new office, at 65 Bleecker Street in New York that we moved in to in August.

Our new home was created for the CFDA community, allowing the organization to host industry events in a professional and branded working environment. Supporting new talent remained. Through our scholarship programs, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, and the {FASHION INCUBATOR}, we are helping to create a new generation of American talent. Our programs continued to help and recognize working designers.

CFDA’s Business Services Network and Professional Development series connected Members to jobs, collaborations, and information. A second Design Manifesto, and work on the Innovation Design Projection Act, championed the intellectual-property rights of designers. Underwritten by our longtime friend Swarovski, the CFDA Fashion Awards celebrated the work of designers, as voted by the industry. Philanthropy remained core to our mission. After Hurricane Sandy hit, the CFDA and Vogue quickly organized Fashion for Sandy Relief, and raised over $1 million to support the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and other relief organizations in the tri-state area. Another important effort was the new international Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign, featuring Karolina Kurkova.

As we look ahead to the next 50 years, there’s no doubt that the CFDA, its members, and supporters, will continue to play an important role in shaping our industry. Together our work continues.


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