Who’s Who Among the Young Designers Nominated at the CFDAs

by Caroline Grosso, Nora Milch, and

Swarovski Nominees

The Swarovski Awards for Womenswear, Menswear, and Accessories are doled out to the up-and-coming designers who have taken the industry by storm since their launch. This year, Brandon Maxwell, Ryan Roche, and the designers behind Monse have been nominated for Womenswear Designer of the Year; for Menswear, the Orley siblings, Gypsy Sport’s Rio Uribe, and John Elliott have been tapped; and for accessories, Brother Vellies‘ Aurora James, Gigi Burris and her eponymous millinery, and Paul Andrew face off Monday night. Here, a primer for these promising few who may take home the win at tonight’s CFDA Awards.


Who he is: Brandon Maxwell

What you need to know: Brandon Maxwell launched his eponymous collection in 2015 after a career as a successful stylist and fashion director to Lady Gaga. His collections are well-regarded for their tailored, sophisticated pieces and black and white color-palette.

On the nomination: “Almost one year ago today my life was in a completely different place. I took a leap and a chance and it was the scariest thing I think I’ve ever done. This nomination was such a joy and a blessing because it served as a reminder to believe in myself and give thanks for those around me who have always stood so selflessly by me.”


Who they are: Monse’s Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia

What you need to know: Monse launched in 2015, the brainchild of two Oscar de la Renta alums. Before her 12 years at Oscar de la Renta, Kim attended Pratt Institute and interned at Donna Karan and TSE. Garcia grew up traveling between the Dominican Republic and Spain. He studied architecture before a chance meeting with Mr. de la Renta, who encouraged him to come to NY for an internship, which led to a role as principal designer at the house.

On the nomination: “From day one, the fashion industry has been super supportive of Monse, and this nomination came as a huge surprise to us. This past year has been challenging and rewarding at the same time. One of our goals for the year ahead is to build more of a structured business within the brand.”


Who she is: Ryan Roche

What you need to know: Ryan Roche launched her womenswear collection in 2011 and has created some of most luxurious knitwear in dreamy shades of peach, pink, and other classic muted colors. Her silhouettes are modern and each piece feels instantly covetable.

On the nomination: “It’s such an incredible honor to be nominated, especially amongst such a talented group of designers — many of whom I count as friends! I’m so flattered every time I woman I admire wears my clothes or an editor writes about my collection. It feels like my rose-tinted mood might be contagious.”


Who they are: Orley’s Alex Orley, Matthew Orley, Samantha Orley

What you need to know: Orley launched with a capsule collection of Italian-made knitwear for fall 2012 and expanded into a full men’s ready-to-wear collection for Spring 2014. They are known for their youthful, idiosyncratic and nostalgia driven collections. The Orleys launched a women’s collection for Fall 2015 and were previously nominated for the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund and LVMH Prize.

On their nomination: “We are really grateful to be able to do what we do. This is just the icing on the cake.”


Who he is: Gypsy Sport’s Rio Uribe

What you need to know: Focused on inspiring creativity, celebrating diversity, and encouraging individuality, Gypsy Sport never fails to surprise and entertain with their youthful sportswear collection rooted in street wear. Rio Uribe launched Gypsy Sport in 2012.

On the nomination: “I’m super grateful and ecstatic to be embraced by the CFDA and the fashion community as a whole.”


Who he is: John Elliott

What you need to know: Elliot founded his company in spring 2012 with a focus on clean lines and tailored fits. He strives to create tomorrow’s classics. He made his NYFW debut for the FW15 season.


Who she is: Brother Vellies’s Aurora James

What you need to know: Aurora James launched Brother Vellies in order to share her favorite traditional African footwear with the rest of the world. Each shoe is handmade in South Africa, Kenya and Morocco.

On the nomination: “Three years ago I began down a journey that would change my life and the lives of others in a way I could have never imagined. We … worked side-by-side in South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, Burkina Fasso and Ethiopia; everything I know about accessory design I learned from people in Africa. It’s like we’ve always said, you guys — all ships rise with the tides and this is Africa rising.”

Photo by Jason Eric Hardwick.


Who he is: Paul Andrew

What you need to know: After heading up shoe and accessory design for designers like Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, Paul Andrew launched his eponymous collection in 2013.

On the nomination: “I know it sounds like a cliché, but it is really an honor to be recognized by one’s peers. The fashion industry has embraced me and my brand in such a positively moving way, and I am ever so grateful for their support.”


Who she is: Milliner Gigi Burris

What you need to know: Burris studied at Parsons Paris and spent time visiting the old world mercerie shops there. She was inspired to launch her own millinery for the FW 2011 season. Today, she is stocked at Colette, Matches Fashion and The Webster.

On the nomination: “It is so humbling to receive this accolade from the fashion industry. It seems a bit surreal still! I hope that this nomination will allow us a louder voice in the conversation of American fashion.”