If the ten CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists weren't anxious before Diane von Furstenberg took the stage at tonight's ceremony, they were afterward. The CFDA president announced that she and Vogue's Anna Wintour had decided to increase the prizes to $300,000 for the winner and $100,000 each for the two runners-up, up from $200,000 and $50,000, respectively. "The main prize is the mentoring we provide," she said, "but a little cash never hurts."
The higher stakes seemed well-suited to the caliber of this year's nominees. Earlier at cocktail hour, von Furstenberg said, "It was a very hard vote,” and her fellow judge Reed Krakoff agreed: "it's one of the best crops we've ever had. I think anyone can win." During his lightning-speed keynote speech, Karl Lagerfeld talked about the sketch contest that launched his own career before getting a big laugh for suggesting to 2010's up-and-comers that "It's a good thing to have money problems, to struggle, [even if] I'm somebody who's not very good at it." His secret: "Young goes. But good? If you're good, it may all last."
Then the actress Carey Mulligan joined him on stage to announce the winners: Jewelry designer Eddie Borgo and Nepalese-born ready-to-wear talent Prabal Gurung were named runners-up, and the grand prize went to Billy Reid, a relative veteran. Along with the aforementioned cash, all three will take home a specially commissioned bronze award created by the artist Rachel Feinstein. The results, which leaked on Twitter before being announced inside Skylight Studios, were something of a surprise (many in the audience had pegged Gurung and French-American designer Joseph Altuzarra as the front-runners). But no one was quite as shocked as Reid himself, who had already received recognition of his talents when he was named the CFDA/GQ best new menswear designer earlier this year. "I'm at a loss for words," the well-liked double winner remarked from the dais. "This is a long way from Amite, Louisiana [his hometown]." Later he said, "I want to find all the nominees and just squeeze and hug them. We were all in this together, and each one of them deserves this."
Last year's winner, Sophie Théallet, had a piece of advice for Reid and company: "Keep your head on your shoulders. Before and after, you need to be the best you can be."