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July 29 2014

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Elie Tahari, The CFDA Do Right By Humanity

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It was chilly in New York last night, but the welcome couldn’t have been warmer at Diane von Furstenberg’s studio for Gohar Rajabzadeh, the first-ever winner of the CFDA’s Liz Claiborne Scholarship (pictured, left, with DVF and Art Ortenberg, Claiborne’s husband and business partner). Rajabzadeh, a senior at the Miami International University of Art & Design, is of Persian descent and grew up in Sweden. Inspired by both places, her designs are all about easy sportswear and outerwear, and she, fittingly, cites Liz Claiborne as a major influence. “I also love texture and playing with fabric. The one piece I think everyone should have is a great coat with a big hood and deep pockets.”

The deep-pocket appreciator now has a deep-pocketed benefactor. The $25,000 scholarship prize is endowed by Ortenberg in his late wife’s memory. “There’s nothing like being accepted by your peers,” the dapper Ortenberg told the crowd. “There were 20 finalists, but Gohar stood out.” The judging panel—which included Van Lupu, Dana Buchman, Andrew Rosen, Vena Cava’s Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock, Victoria Bartlett, and Ortenberg himself—agreed. “For a young designer, this is like winning the lottery,” said Elie Tahari. But there’s more than mere money at stake. “To support young designers is just a great thing for humanity,” he added. What could be warmer than that?

Photo: Billy Farrell/Patrick McMullan

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