Fashion(?) at the 2021 CFDA Awards


After a two-year hiatus, the 2021 CFDA Awards were back and live from Manhattan. They were held last night at The Pool + Grill in the former Four Seasons Restaurant. This event is always billed as “Fashion’s Biggest Night,” but to me, it often looked more like a Halloween party, about 11 days too late. Yes, everything and anything goes. There are no rules. Fashion is all about self-expression; being who you are. That doesn’t mean it’s always okay to look as though you are dressing for a “come as you are” costume party. From a sartorial point of view, it was really hit and miss, more misses than hits.

And where is the fashion?

Let’s start out with Zendaya, who was there to receive the Fashion Icon Award. I wrote an article voicing my opinion on that subject. I don’t think someone can be a Fashion Icon at the age of 25 or when it’s based solely on Red Carpet arrivals. Yes, Zendaya can wear anything. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

When I first saw Zendaya, I thought well really, it is just an award for being thin.

Anonymous Instagram post

The girl is skin and bones, and she looks anorexic in her red Vera Wang custom-designed outfit. Zendaya is sending the wrong message to her millions of Instagram followers. There is a proven link between eating disorders and social media use, particularly in developing and perpetuating body image issues. There are not enough positive role models these days. Stand up straight and be one Zenaya!

“Dapper Dan”

Daniel Day, aka Dapper Dan, made history last night as the first Black designer to receive the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. He’s also the first to win it without having hosted a formal runway show. Previous winners include Vera Wang, Calvin Klein, and Giorgio Armani. Unfortunately, Dan didn’t look so dapper last night. His pastel get-up, accessorized with a beige straw hat, was better suited for a summer lawn party in Southampton than an award ceremony held at an iconic Manhattan restaurant in mid-November.

Emily Ratajkowski

Miu Miu or not, Emily Ratajkowski looked like she wandered into The Four Seasons while running errands around town. Does this woman ever cover up her entire body? I don’t think Emily has ever met a bare midriff she didn’t love.

Rebecca Dayan

Talking about not covering up. French actress, model, artist, and activist Rebecca Dayan’s see-through dress and black thong left nothing to the imagination. Boring and unnecessary. Been there, done that. Next!

Lolo Zouai.

Lolo Zouaï, the French-Algerian-American musician, came in a grungy mashup, pairing an oversized plaid shirt with a camel shearling jacket, black stockings, and combat boots. I mean, really!

Drew Barrymore and Christian Siriano

Where Lolo was underdone, Drew Barrymore was overdone. Her yellow Christian Siriano gown was like something from “Gone With the Wind.” Very old-fashioned.

Kid Cudi and Eli Russell Linnetz

One of the strangest fashion statements was the wedding dress, white veil, white tuxedo jacket, and white sneakers worn by Kid Cudi. The rapper and his pal Eli looked like they meant to find a chapel but took a wrong turn and ended up at the CFDA Awards instead. FYI, the dress was designed by Linnetz, who was nominated for American Emerging Designer of the Year.

HoYeon Jung

But, some attendees looked good, dressed appropriately, and had their own personal style. One of the most elegantly dressed guests was South Korean actress and model HoYeon Jung, who wore an asymmetrically draped Louis Vuitton gown and low heeled, open-toed black ankle boots. She looked great without trying too hard.

Emily Blunt and Christopher John Rogers

The actress Emily Blunt, who served as host for the evening, looked chic, cool, and relaxed in a slightly oversized tangerine pantsuit by Christopher John Rogers. The designer, who took home the Womenswear of the Year Award, looked to Thom Browne for his gender-bending outfit.

Colm Dillane and Stacey Bendet

Brooklyn-based streetwear designer Colm Dillane, and Stacey Bendet, looked artsy, quirky, and very much in sync as they arrived together in their coordinating printed designs. Strange for sure but it somehow worked.

Selby Drummond

Selby Drummond, Chief Brand Officer of Bumble New York, wore an ivory dress with fringe trim. The former Vogue editor is accessorized with a small crochet bag and cool lace-up sandals decorated with gold balls. It looked vaguely vintage but the overall effect was modern.


Last but not least is Yeohlee, who received her well-deserved Board of Directors’ Tribute Award from Michael Kors. Yeohlee, ahead of the design curve on so many levels, looked fabulous in a vintage notch collar jacket and ‘padi’ pants, made of silver/gold moire. It is from the designer’s Fall 1997 “Urban Nomad” collection (one of my favorites). Yeohlee is wisely making the pieces available as custom orders, starting today. “Signs of Intelligent Life,” indeed!

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

  1. And just when I thought ugly had reached its limit, along came the CFDA awards. This is how 3-yr olds dress their dolls. Complete with makeup. The Emperor has bad clothes, folks.

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