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August 2 2014

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Checking In With Newly Minted Fashion Funder Billy Reid

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His win last night at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards was a surprise to the crowds, but no one professed to be more shocked than designer Billy Reid himself. “Absolutely blown away,” he said by phone this morning. “We’re still in shock.”

Reid took the top prize—$300,000 for his line, plus a bronze statue of a swan by artist Rachel Feinstein for good measure—with Prabal Gurung and Eddie Borgo named runners-up. “It’s such a huge help to us,” Reid said of the cash award. “We’ve been working on building our company, step by step. We’re at a point where we need that extra push to help market ourselves and really try to take what we have and somehow get it out there, grow it, make something of it.” He’ll be showing his collection in New York for the third season running next fashion week, and if all goes well, showing his fledgling womenswear alongside the men’s.

It’s not the first time the CFDA has recognized the Florence, Alabama-based designer. Earlier this year, Reid took the CFDA/GQ Award for Menswear Designer of the Year, and back in 2001, nabbed the CFDA’s Perry Ellis Award (later renamed the Swarovski Award) for his first line, William Reid, which shuttered in the wake of 9/11. “It just feels so different,” Reid said of winning now versus winning then. “I guess just because of the journey, you know? We just went through so much…to really try and resuscitate our lives, basically, in a lot of ways, and our work. Just to have someone believe in it like that, it’s just heartwarming.”

“Pretty much we were the last to leave,” the designer said of the afterglow at Skylight Studios. But while many in the crowd headed for the Boom Boom Room, Reid and his wife, Jeanne (pictured with Reid, left), made for a favorite late-night dive. “We had a hamburger and a beer,” he laughed.

PLUS: For more pictures and coverage from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards, click here for our complete slideshow >

Photo: Sherly Rabbani and Josephine Solimene

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