At a meeting last week, the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Board of Directors ratified the addition of 26 new designers to its membership bringing the group’s total to 372.


The new Members are:


Waris Ahluwalia, HOUSE OF WARIS

Steven Alan

Lisa Axelson, ANN TAYLOR






George Esquivel, ESQUIVEL SHOES

Robert Geller

Gary Graham

Ulrich Grimm, CALVIN KLEIN

Sang A Im-Propp, SANG A


Adam Kimmel

Nikki Kule, KULE

Kimberly McDonald

Rebecca Minkoff

Bibhu Mohapatra

Juan Carlos Obando

Monique Péan


Robert Rodriguez

L’Wren Scott

Shelly Steffee

Sophie Theallet


Executive Director Steven Kolb said of this year’s new Members, “The class of 2010 is a talented mix of creativity and we are pleased to welcome the designers in to the CFDA family.”

In October, CFDA Board of Directors member Vera Wang will host a party in her home to welcome the new Members.

CFDA admissions occur each spring. Prospective CFDA Members must contact the CFDA to request admissions materials.  Eligible candidates may be American citizens designing in the United States or abroad or foreign nationals with businesses based in the United States. The application for membership includes a resume, a portfolio, and other materials that represent the candidate’s work to date, and two letters of recommendation from active CFDA Members in the same area of design. The Admissions Committee who then recommends selected candidates for membership to the Board of Directors, which must ratify each candidate, reviews all submissions.


About the new Members:

Waris Ahluwalia of HOUSE OF WARIS – Waris Ahluwalia is a pioneer among a new breed of craftsmen. With a passion for quality and beauty as well as a naturally creative spirit, Waris got started making jewelry for friends. While acting in Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”, Waris fell in love with Rome. He was inspired by the city’s living history and the quality and attention to detail of its artisans. Tucked away in the old city, he discovered the perfect small workshop. Within six months, HOUSE OF WARIS had moved production from New York to Rome, where artisans with generations of experience in creating meticulously handcrafted jewelry now help make Waris’ unique and instinctive design philosophy become a reality. Waris, who is now based in New York, travels frequently to Rome and Rajasthan on a quest to preserve the methods of the Old World, working with the best in each city, from goldsmiths to diamond setters who once made the crests for royal families. Waris was a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist in 2009, and is currently participating in the {CFDA FASHION INCUBATOR} program.


Steven Alan – After graduating from the University of Southern California in 1989, Steven opened the first STEVEN ALAN store in New York City in 1994, which carried a variety of women’s clothing and accessories bands. Four years later, he created his first private label STEVEN ALAN men’s shirt. In 1999 he started men’s line named Orfi and opened a store on Prince Street, and in 2000 he opened a Steven Alan men’s store/barber shop on Broome Street. In 2002 Steven partnered with Galleria department store to open five STEVEN ALAN women’s stores in South Korea, launched the STEVEN ALAN website and online store, and opened a stand-alone store at the STEVEN ALAN Showroom in New York City. In 2003 Steven designed and launched an eponymous men’s collection, and in 2005 his women’s collection. More recently Steven has been working on his launch of handbags – set to launch in 2010, opening STEVEN ALAN stores in East Hampton, Brooklyn, Venice, Hollywood, and Los Feliz.


Lisa Axelson of ANN TAYLOR After graduating from Parson School of Design in 1994 Lisa  worked at BANANA REPUBLIC and ultimately became the Senior Director of Design for Men’s and Women’s Wovens.  There she created seasonal concept and color direction for Men’s and Women’s apparel, and was the lead designer for all woven categories. She left in 2002, to work at Gap as Senior Director of Design for Women’s and was responsible for setting seasonal direction for concept, fabric, print and silhouette, managing a design team, print stylist, and fabric R&D. In 2003 Lisa was appointed Vice President of Design at Abercrombie and Fitch, where she was the lead designer on a team launching Ruehl – A&F’s new concept. She was also responsible for conceptual development of brand and customer profile, product, marketing, and in-store presentation during the launch of the new line. In 2005 she left Abercrombie to become Senior Vice President of Design for Men’s, Women’s and Accessories at Club Monaco.  In 2008 Lisa accepted the position of Creative Director at Ann Taylor. Since she started, she has developed new product launches and brand building ideas, established and guided a new brand filter, and redefined Ann Taylor as a modern, chic and sophisticated Women’s brand.


Lubov Azria of BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP – Born in Kiev, Ukraine, and relocating to the United States with her family in her early teens, Lubov focused on the visual arts. A passion for design and a natural talent for illustration led her to pursue a degree at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, where she developed her love of fashion as a means of personal, creative expression. Lubov joined BCBGMAXAZRIA as a designer in 1991 and was named Creative Director in 1996, the same year the company’s core brand, BCBGMAXAZRIA, first debuted its runway collection during New York Fashion Week. In 2004 Lubov, along with Max Azria, began designing the Max Azria collection, which debuted in 2006. The following year was the anticipated runway debut of Hervé Léger by Max Azria, marking the first time in history that an American fashion house showed three separate collections during one season. In 2010, Lubov was named Chief Creative Officer of BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP.”


Shane Baum of BAUMVISION – Shane graduated from San Jose State University with a BS in Industrial Technology and Business Management. From 1991-99, Shane was Vice President of Optics at Mossimo Incorporated. In 1999 Shane was Vice President of Design and International Development at the Optical Shop of Aspen until he founded BAUMVISION in 2000.  In 2006 Shane also worked as a designer for Louis Vuitton, and in 2008 became owner of Eye Society Retail Stores. Shane has worked as a design consultant for Marc Jacobs, and is now currently designing his own line “Leisure Society” which is set to launch in Spring of 2011.


Pamella DeVos of PAMELLA ROLAND – After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in business, Pamella built an extensive professional background in marketing and public relations working for nearly 10 years in both corporate and agency environments. Pamella began the latest chapter in her life in 2002, when she started her clothing design business, PAMELLA ROLAND. In addtion to her role as Owner/President of the company, Pamella also plays a definitive role in creating and designing each piece, with the final say on shapes, fabrics, colors and function. The collection has recieved numerous accolads, including the Gold Coast Award in 2003.


Karen Erickson and Vicki Beamon of ERICKSON BEAMON – Founded and designed by Detroit natives Karen Erickson and Vicki Beamon, Erickson Beamon was born out of the same spontaneous spirit that carries the brand forward today. As the duo was working with a local designer in the early ’80s, they knew jewelry was necessary. In 1985 Vicki Beamon moved to London to spearhead the brand’s European division, and the opening of a flagship boutique in London’s Belgravia soon followed. Erickson Beamon is now sold in over 600 stores and 75 nations worldwide. Though the collection has grown exponentially in the past 27 years, the same handcrafted aesthetic is still Erickson Beamon’s trademark. Karen and Vicki are also experimenting with pushing the possibilities of pearls, crystals, and chains – including mirrors, masks, and a chandelier collection that was launched in 2004. Karen and Vicki have also worked with many of nation’s leading fashion houses on collaborations for runway shows.


George Esquivel of ESQUIVEL SHOES – From 1993 to 2003, George held many different apprenticeships at companies such as Emigdio Canales, Vicente Aldana and Oscar Navarro. In 1999 he founded Esquivel Designs, where he oversees all aspects of design, prototyping, shoemaking and leather working.  Upon completing his apprenticeships in 2003, Esquivel Designs moved into a workshop and design space in Buena Park, California. George has also worked as a design consultant for Gravis Footwear, Cobian, KSwiss, and most recently at Dynasty Footwear where he designed entire collections as well as consulted on single items. Additionally, George has collaborated with designers such as Zero Maria Cornejo and Loden Dager to develop capsule collections. George was also a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist in 2009.


Robert Geller – Robert Geller was born in Hamburg, Germany and in 2001 he graduated from Rhode Island School of Design, where he concentrated his studies on Fashion Design. Upon graduation, he began his training at Marc Jacobs, and in 2002 Robert became a partner in the menswear line Cloak where he co-designed the collections. In 2003 Cloak was the recipient of the Ecco Domani Fashion Fund Award. Robert launched his eponymous menswear line for fall/winter 2007. In 2009 GQ named Robert as the winner of the second annual “Best New Menswear Designer in America” project. Later that year, Robert was nominated for the CFDA Swarovski Emerging Menswear Award.


Gary Graham – In 1992 Gary graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and worked as a costume assistant at Parson Meares Ltd. For the next seven years, he worked as an assistant designer for J. Morgan Puett, a textile and costume designer for Julie Taymor, Disney’s the Lion King on Broadway, and he designed a private label and developed textiles for a wide range of product for ABC Carpet and Home. In 1999 Gary opened GARY GRAHAM in Tribeca. In 2005 he moved his operations and showroom to midtown Manhattan and the next year he opened a 250 square foot boutique inside ABC Carpet and Home. In 2009 Gary opened a store in Tribeca along with company operations, and was a Finalist in the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.


Ulrich Grimm of CALVIN KLEIN – Ulrich grew up in Porta Westfalica, Germany. He studied fashion design at Esmod in Paris and later returned to Germany to earn a BFA in fashion design from Fachhochschule Bielefeld. Early in his career, he held design positions at Joop!, Bogner, and Fendi. In 1994 Ulrich began his career in American fashion as a Studio Designer for Anne Klein and Anne Klein II accessory collections, and a year later was promoted to the role of Studio Design Director. In 1996 he was appointed Design Director for the licensee behind the ck Calvin Klein shoe division. In 1997 Ulrich was hired by Coach Inc. as a Design Director, responsible with updating and modernizing the women’s handbag and shoe collections. In 1998 he was invited to join the in-house design team at Calvin Klein, where he served as the Design Director for men’s and women’s ck Calvin Klein shoes. A year later, he was given additional responsibilities for accessories and women’s collection shoes. Ulrich was promoted to the role of Creative Director in July 2006.


Sang A Im-Propp of SANG A – Upon Sang A Im-Propp’s arrival in New York City, she found herself drawn to the world of fashion, and to hone her skills she enrolled at Parsons School of Design. In addition to her formal education, she gained experience through internships with high-profile stylists such as Victoria Bartlett and Lisa Von Weise. Eventually, Sang A decided to start her own business. She launched her collection of exotic skin and leather accessories in Spring 2006. Her intricate and exceptional use of alligator, python, and ostrich skins, amongst others, quickly established her as a designer to watch in the luxury accessories market.  In November 2007, Sang A was awarded the prestigious Samsung Fashion Design Fund Award in Seoul, South Korea. The SANG A collection has seen significant growth and success since its launch and continues to develop in innovative and exciting ways. Sang A is currently participating in the {CFDA FASHION INCUBATOR} program.


Anthony Keegan of COMMONWEALTH UTILTIES – Anthony received a degree in Men’s tailoring and a second degree in Men’s design at London’s prestigious Central St. Martins.  After graduating, he spent the next ten years designing for Giorgio Armani, Benetton, and Gianni Versace. His arrival in New York led to creative direction at Kenneth Cole for 5 years, after which he developed a new division for the Donna Karan DKNY brand. Anthony Keegan is a co-founder of Commonwealth Utilities which launched its first collection for Spring 2009.


Adam Kimmel

In 2001 Adam graduated from New York University, where he majored in Architecture and Urban Design. While in college, he started making clothes for friends. In 2003, he was introduced to Joe Serino, the former president of CALVIN KLEIN Menswear, and together they launched ADAM KIMMEL. That year, Adam went to Italy for 6 months to learn tailoring and pattern making, and put together his first small collection of jumpsuits and utilitarian clothing. He sold his first collection, Fall/Winter 2004, exclusively to Colette in Paris.  Adam launched the first full ADAM KIMMEL collection for Fall/Winter 2005 and it was immediately picked-up by Colette, Dover Street Market, and Bergdorf Goodman. In 2008 Adam added shoes and accessories to his collection, and was also selected as a guest designer at Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy. More recently, Adam was presented with the Wallpaper Design Award for Best Fashion Concept.


Monica Rich Kosann of MONICA RICH KOSANN FINE JEWELRY – Monica, the Creative Director and Founder of MONICA RICH KOSANN Fine Jewelry, creates 18 karat gold and sterling silver lockets, charm bracelets and a broad collection of other fine jewelry. She started with a concentration on photography, and opened MONICA RICH KOSANN PHOTOGRPAHY in 1989. In 2004 she founded MONICA RICH KOSANN Fine Jewelry. Monica graduated from Clack University and in addition participated in study programs at Rhode Island School of Design, Ecole des Arte, Acahemie Fur Kunst, and Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Monica was awarded the Rising Star Award for Fine Jewelry from Fashion Group International in 2010.


Nikki Kule of KULE – Upon graduation from Parson’s School of Design in Paris, Nikki took her first creative position as the Design Director of SILK CLUB.  She then moved on to become the Director of Design for PIVOTE RULES. In 1997, Nikki was part of the founding team of BLUEFLY.COM. As the Creative Director, Nikki was the design and branding expert, as well as its first merchant. In 2000, Nikki started KULE, a children’s clothing line. At KULE she makes classics that are crafted to the highest standards and made from the most luxurious fabrics. In 2009, Nikki was chosen to be a guest children’s designer for BROOKS BROTHERS. She oversees their boy’s collection as well as being the first designer to introduce girls into BROOKS BROTHERS.


Kimberly McDonald – Kimberly has always had a deep love and appreciation for nature and these attributes have found their way into her fine jewelry line. A North Carolina native now based in New York City, she has created an entire collection using natural and organic materials such as agates and geodes, complimented by natural/untreated fine materials such as diamonds, raw emeralds, and baroque pearls.  Kimberly’s commitment to honoring nature is further underscored by her use of reclaimed gold and wood, and recycled diamonds and other precious stones. Before Kimberly started designing her eponymous line in 2007, she worked as a private seller of jewelry, a make up artist, and a boutique owner upon her graduation from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1990.


Rebecca Minkoff – Rebecca attended Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) until 2000. From 1999 to 2001 Rebecca was an assistant designer at Craig Taylor, and after leaving she launched REBECCA MINKOFF as an apparel brand, designing hand-sewn clothing for over 50 boutiques nation wide. In 2005 she refocused the company on handbags, selling internationally to over 400 specialty and department stores. In 2009 Rebecca re-launched her ready-to-wear apparel in over 25 boutiques. Currently she oversees and manages design departments for ready-to-wear, handbags, and small leather goods.


Bibhu Mohapatra – Born in the Indian state of Orissa, Bibhu Mohapatra showed an interest in fashion at an early age. His love for sumptuous Indian fabrics, vibrant colors, and the crafts of his native land has been the inspiration behind his elegant designs. In 1996 he moved to New York City to attend Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). He graduated one year later, having received the prestigious “Critic’s Award for Best Evening Wear Design”.  In 1998, while at FIT, Bibhu was offered a position as an assistant designer at Halston. There he developed his design skills and in 1999, when Giles Mendel repackaged his label into a more youthful brand and expanded into ready-to-wear, Bibhu was hired as Design Director to help realize the vision.  Following the presentation of the Fall/Winter 2008 collection, Bibhu resigned from J.Mendel in order to establish his own label. He has now completed his third ready-to-wear collection under his namesake label. Bibhu is currently participating in the {CFDA FASHION INCUBATOR} program.


Juan Carlos Obando – A native of Baranquilla, Colombia, Juan Carlos (J C) began his professional visual communications journey in Miami. Possessing a natural ability to translate the beauty that surrounds him into tangible creations, he quickly transformed himself from design student at the University of Miami into one of the most highly sought-after Art Directors in the advertising field. He worked with advertising powerhouses such as Bates Worldwide, Young & Rubicam, and Saatchi & Saatchi. In the fall of 2006, after a year of literally pulling apart vintage Azzedine Alaia and Chanel pieces, he taught himself how to construct garments from the inside out – which enabled him to launch his privately-held fashion company, which debuted during L.A. Fashion Week that year. A season after his New York debut, he was selected as a 2008 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist. His brand look is defined by t old-school hand sewing and pleating techniques, constantly juxtaposing high sophistication and raw sensibility, demonstrating his respect for the craft and sewing.


Monique Péan – Monique graduated with majors in Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. Upon graduation, Monique worked on Wall Street while taking fashion design courses in New York. She also founded the Vanessa Péan Foundation in her sister’s memory to raise funds to provide scholarships to underprivileged students in Haiti. Monique founded her accessories company in 2006, which focuses on eco-friendly and sustainable fine jewelry. Monique was selected as one of the 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Runners-Up, and she was also the recipient of the Ecco Domani 2009 Fashion Foundation Award for accessories. Monique leads 14 employees to produce, manage, brand and sell sustainable luxury accessories line sold in 17 premiere stores internationally.


Robert Rodriguez – Robert Rodriguez attended Fashion Institute Technology (FIT) in New York, where he received the Critics Award for Best Designer of the Year. After completing his education, Robert accepted a Design Apprentice position working for Christian Dior under the guidance of Marc Bohen and Geri Gerald. With the experience Robert gained while working at Dior, he decided to launch his own eponymous brand. In October of 2003, Robert, together with business partner Nicola Guarna, created ROBERT RODRIGUEZ – a sophisticated, contemporary collection for women. Each season is inspired by the latest European fabrics and through that, silhouettes are determined. In 2010, Robert took the position of Chief Designer at Jones Apparel Group.


L’Wren Scott – Six-foot-three L’Wren Scott left Roy, Utah, in September 1985 to become a model in Paris, and since then she has led a star-studded life. In Paris she befriended the designers she worked with, including Karl Lagerfeld and Thierry Mugler.  In 1994 L’Wren, moved to California and became a stylist for celebrity photographer Herb Ritts, before branching out on her own to dress megastars like Nicole Kidman. In 2006 she decided to launch her own line of clothing. “In Paris no one was more obsessed than I was with what was going on behind the scenes”. While Scott’s business is small, she wants to make getting dressed effortless; her collection is based on a one-color palette. She relies mainly on fabrics like silk jacquards and lightweight wools and adds drama in the cut. And with a staff of only four; she is involved in every phase of her business.


Shelly Steffe – Shelley graduated from Drexel University with a degree in Fashion Design. From there she worked as a Woven Designer for Liz Claiborne and in 1991 Shelley served as the Sportswear Designer for Elie Tahari. From 1992-1997, she was a Senior Designer at Anne Klein II, where she  created concepts and colors, developed prints, sourced fabric and trims, and designed/sketched for eight (8) seasons each year. In 1998 Shelly was appointed the position of Womenswear Design Director at Brooks Brothers. After working there for a year, she took time off to develop her own eponymous brand, SHELLY STEFFE, which was founded in 2001. Shelly directs and oversees all aspects of design, production, wholesale, retail, and e-commerce operations.


Sophie Theallet – Upon her graduation from Studio Bercot in Paris, Sophie Theallet received a National Young Designer Award and was commissioned to design her own collection for the Parisian department store Le Printemps. Shortly thereafter, she began working for Jean-Paul Gaultier, and a few years later she accepted a position with Azzedine. After moving to New York, Sophie continued to work with AlaÏa on a part-time basis, while also freelancing for other fashion labels. In the spring of 2005, she launched the small and exclusive resort collection, MOTU TANE with help of her friend Francois Nars, the make-up artist. More recently, in just a few seasons, Sophie has established her eponymous label – SOPHIE THEALLET – which is revered by fashion insiders for its unique aesthetic in luxury womenswear. Sophie’s signature “easy elegance” and classic femininity is rendered in exquisite silhouettes and beautifully hand-finished techniques. In November, Sophie Theallet was named the 2009 Winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.


About the CFDA

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc, (CFDA) is a not-for-profit trade association that leads industry-wide initiatives and whose membership consists of more than 350 of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers. In addition to hosting the annual CFDA Fashion Awards, which recognize the top creative talent in the industry, the organization offers programs which support professional development and scholarships, including the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, the Geoffrey Beene Design Scholar Award, the Liz Claiborne Scholarship Award, and the CFDA/Teen Vogue Scholarship. Member support is provided through the Business Services Network, a high-profile group of companies offering designers strategic opportunities. The CFDA Foundation, Inc. is a separate, not-for-profit organized to mobilize the membership to raise funds for charitable causes. Through the Foundation, the CFDA created and manages Fashion Targets Breast Cancer; raises funds for HIV/AIDS organizations with 7th on Sale; addresses the issue of model health with The CFDA Health Initiative; and is a key participant in other programs such as the annual Fashion’s Night Out. For more information, please visit


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