On the Runway: The Biggest Night in American Fashion You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Everything you need to know about the CFDA Awards — how much it costs to go, who picks the winners and what Kim Kardashian West may wear.

At the CFDA awards last year, from left: Gloria Steinem; Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood; and Janelle Monáe.CreditNina Westervelt for The New York Times

Another month, another awards drum roll. But while you may know all about the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards and the Emmy Awards and the Tony Awards and the Grammy Awards and the MTV Video Awards and the Country Music Awards (more awards than there are spangles on a Britney Spears Vegas outfit), do you know about the CFDA Awards?

They take place Monday night — they are always the first Monday in June — and you should, because they are nominally the biggest night in American fashion.

Wait. I thought the Met Gala was the biggest night in fashion. What is this CFDA thing?

The Met Gala has become arguably the biggest night in public fashion — that is, famous people dressing on the red carpet for social media consumption and brand marketing. But the awards known officially as the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards are about the industry itself.

It’s the fashion equivalent of the high school prom, complete with crowned king and queen (O.K., Designers of the Year) and assorted BMOCs. There is no real Anna Wintour equivalent controlling everything like the Wizard of Oz, but Diane von Furstenberg, who is chairman of the CFDA, comes closest.

Seth Meyers. host of the 2017 CFDA awards.CreditLandon Nordeman for The New York Times

What happens?

There’s a red carpet. There’s a dinner. There’s a celebrity M.C., most often a comedian poking (very gentle) fun at fashion’s oddities. There are statuettes. There are four big awards: designer of the year for women’s wear, men’s wear and accessories, and an emerging designer of the year for a newcomer, who can also be any of the above, all chosen from a list of five finalists (you can find it here). Oooh, the nail-biting anticipation!

Then there are also six special honorees, for lifetime achievement, media, good works (officially known as the Swarovski Award for Positive Change), contributions to the industry (the Founder’s Award), international designer (Donatella Versace is getting it this year), and — most exciting of all — Fashion Icon.

That last one goes to a celebrity, who gives the whole thing a frisson of paparazzi pizazz. There are speeches, but with luck they are not too long. (In 2015, Pharrell Williams would have won the award for longest acceptance speech ever, if it had existed, for a monologue that went on for about 15 minutes.)

The evening is underwritten partly by Swarovski (which also has the new designer award named after it) and is a fund-raiser for the CFDA, which is the trade and lobbying organization for the fashion industry, and its various programs. Tickets cost $10,000 and tables about $70,000; last year the event was attended by 600 industry members and 400 students (they go free), and raised $4 million. That’s nowhere near the Met Gala, which clocks in at about $13 million, but in line with many cultural fund-raisers in New York.

From left, Jack McCullough (in back) and Lazaro Hernandez, the designers of Proenza Schouler, with Chloë Sevigny in 2017.CreditNina Westervelt for The New York Times

Who goes?

Designers, of course, and all the folk that love them (or depend on them for their livelihood), including retailers, stylists, photographers, fashion magazine editors and … celebrities!

The awards show has turned into a mutual back-scratching publicity opportunity thanks to a glitzy red carpet and presenter gigs. As at the Met Gala, nominees are expected to come with starry escorts, dressed in their fashion, the better to grab attention and get photographed.

So far, for example, we know that Cate Blanchett (star of the coming fashion heist film “Ocean’s 8”), Trevor Noah (occasional front row guest at Calvin Klein and star of “The Daily Show”), Lupita Nyong’o, Claire Danes and Busy Phillips are all presenting.

And Kim Kardashian West is getting the Fashion Icon award, which could mean very interesting things in the nude dressing category. In 2014, Rihanna got the same award and owned the night in sheer rhinestone-speckled Adam Selman and a white fur boa.

Ms. Kardashian West could also shock everyone and demonstrate how seriously she takes this honor by wearing a black pantsuit, as she did on Wednesday during her White House visit. We will see! We will see if Kanye comes as her date. If he does, who knows what he will say?

Also represented: Caroline Kennedy (who will give a Founder’s Award to Carolina Herrera, and wore Herrera to her wedding) and the Parkland student Delaney Tarr, who is presenting Diane von Furstenberg with the award for Positive Change. As for watching, the CFDA will stream the red carpet and the awards on its Facebook page.

Issa Rae in May. She is the first person of color to be the M.C. of the awards.CreditRebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

So, other than the celeb ogling, why do I care this year?

A few things. Issa Rae is hosting, which will be the first time a person of color has served as M.C. (in the past, Seth Myers, John Waters, James Corden and others took the stage) and the first time a woman has done so since 2009 (that was Tracey Ullman). That, and the precedent of “Insecure,” could lead to potentially more pointed comedy than we have seen in the past, especially given fashion’s less than stellar track record with diversity of all kinds.

Then there’s the fact that both Virgil Abloh of Off-White and James Jebbia of Supreme are nominated as men’s wear designer of the year, and Mr. Abloh is also nominated as women’s wear designer of the year, the first acknowledgment by the establishment that street wear has well and truly made it into the high fashion pantheon. If either of them win (or both), it could signal a turning point in fashion, and a change in the definition of “designer.”

Also, the awards are at the Brooklyn Museum, yet more proof that the borough, already home to numerous designers, is having a real fashion moment.

That sounds like a big deal. Who decides the winners?

It’s kind of like the Oscars. Ballots go out to everyone the industry considers stakeholders: not just CFDA members but also people in related industries. They get to nominate anyone for the big awards (the criteria are a little vague, especially when it comes to defining the difference between “emerging designer” and “designer of the year”).

The ballots come back, get tabulated by the CFDA, and the finalists are the names that get the most votes. Then the ballots go out again to the same crowd to decide the winners. The special honorees get selected by the CFDA board.

(In case you are wondering, The New York Times does not participate because it is against our rules to choose sides.)

Virgil Abloh of Off-White and Bella Hadid at last year’s awards. Mr. Abloh is nominated for men’s wear and as women’s wear designer of the year.CreditNina Westervelt for The New York Times

Paris Journal: Sons of Immigrants Prop Up a Symbol of ‘Frenchness’: The Baguette

“I see myself as an artist, as a magician,” he said. “I take a primary material, and I make something out of it. And I make people happy.”

A lot of people. “Twelve million people go into a boulangerie” — a bakery — “every day to buy baguette,” the president of the Paris baker’s syndicate, Franck Thomasse, announced solemnly to the festive crowd in presenting the award outside Notre Dame cathedral on a recent Saturday.

Opposite him, bakers were shaping dough, and next to him stood the mayor of Paris, the rector of Notre Dame, and the head chef of the Élysée Palace. Framing the scene was the intricate medieval bulk of Notre Dame.

“Outside of France, it is one of the principal symbols of France,” Mr. Thomasse told the crowd, and there was nobody to contradict him.

But when the runners-up in the baguette competition were called to the podium in the giant Festival of Bread tent, under the benevolent gaze of the city’s top spiritual, temporal and gastronomic authorities, one fact stood out. Nearly half the bakers had names that were distinctly un-French. Immigrants were disproportionately represented.


A selfie with President Emmanuel Macron.

Mahmoud M’seddi

But there were few in the crowd to make a connection that appears obvious to Americans: immigrants and their offspring are naturally more inclined to take the tough jobs that natives reject, and work them hard. The Hamilton doctrine has yet to make inroads here.

Mr. M’seddi, who works in his “laboratory” until midnight mixing dough, was initiated into the culture early on. His father Mohamed — his “idol,” to whom “I owe everything” — gets up at 4 a.m. to make the bread in an associated bakery.

Some 1,200 boulangeries close in France every year. Boulangerie work is hard, and the elder Mr. M’seddi tried to keep his son out of it.

The fact that immigrants kept winning the competition is merely “a reflection of the cosmopolitanism of the Ile de France,” the Paris region, said Denis Bourdain, a juror on the panel that awarded the prize.

Guillaume Gomez, the Élysée’s ebullient head chef and himself the son of a Spanish immigrant, insisted there was no connection between national origin and baguette-making, even as he acknowledged that “those who succeed are the ones who really work hard.”

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Seattle’s JuneBaby Named Best New Restaurant at Beard Awards

This year, most went to chefs with relatively new restaurants: Jeremiah Langhorne of the Dabney in Washington D.C., Nina Compton of Compère Lapin in New Orleans, Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, Missy Robbins of Lilia in Brooklyn, and Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis.

Longer-serving chefs include Karen Akunowicz of Myers & Chang in Boston; Abraham Conlon, who improvises new American food with the Chinese-Portuguese-Indian flavors of the island of Macau at Fat Rice in Chicago; Alex Seidel, who runs a farm and creamery alongside his restaurant Mercantile in Denver; and Rodney Scott, of Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, S.C., long famous for his wood-smoked whole-hog barbecue.

Two standard-setters in California won national awards for hospitality: Zuni Café in San Francisco for Outstanding Service, and Caroline Styne, who runs Lucques, A.O.C., and other Los Angeles-area restaurants with the chef Suzanne Goin, for Outstanding Restaurateur.

The movement away from elaborate meals and European cuisine continued, as high-end destinations like Spiaggia, the Restaurant at Meadowood, Le Pigeon, Quince and Boka were shut out. (Atelier Crenn is a notable exception.)


Dolester Miles, who has been making desserts for Highlands Bar & Grill since 1982, was named Outstanding Pastry Chef.

Cary Norton

This year’s roster of winners reflects the forces pushing the industry away from its history of honoring mostly white, male chefs. In this year’s culinary categories (excluding service, design, wine and so forth), 11 of 15 awards went to chefs who are women, or people of color, or both.

In the last year, several journalistic investigations revealed that male chefs and restaurateurs, including Beard award winners, had engaged in chronic sexual harassment of female employees and colleagues.

The foundation has not revoked the awards bestowed on Mario Batali (Outstanding Restaurateur in 2008 and Outstanding Chef in 2005), Ken Friedman (Outstanding Restaurateur in 2016), and John Besh (Best Chef in the Southeast in 2006). However, this year’s judges, about 600 people including past winners, were instructed to “bear in mind that award winners are held up as role models. If you have concerns about a chef, restaurateur or beverage professional, or about the culture around a restaurant or restaurant group, leave the person or business out of your nominations.”

The chef José Andrés was named 2018 Humanitarian of The Year for his on-the-ground work feeding the people of Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Established in 1990, the awards also include book and journalism citations that were presented in New York on April 27. A full list of winners is on the James Beard Foundation’s website.

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A French Honor Not Always for the Honorable; Assad Returns His

Philippe Pétain received the award for his service as France’s military leader in World War I, but he was stripped of it — and imprisoned — after World War II for working with the country’s Nazi conquerors as leader of the Vichy government. Maurice Papon, who held several positions in French government, had his honor revoked after being convicted in 1998 of taking part in sending Jews to concentration camps.

But some non-French recipients, like Mr. Assad and Mr. Noriega, were the subject of doubts in real time, not just in hindsight.

For French honorees, the award — known formally as the National Order of the Legion of Honour — is for “outstanding merit acquired in the service of the nation,” and foreigners can receive it for services to or causes supported by France. (The list of American recipients is heavy on show business figures like Barbra Streisand, Clint Eastwood, Jerry Lewis and Martin Scorsese.)

But, as the order’s website explains, there is another route to the prize. “State visits are also an occasion for conferring the Legion of Honor upon official figures, pursuant to diplomatic reciprocity and thereby supporting the foreign policy of France,” it says.

A spokeswoman for the order said, “it’s a way to show the two countries maintain relations.”

Though the honor is, at least in name, bestowed by the French president, the order effectively takes the lead in making most choices. But the medals awarded in state visits are given at the government’s discretion.


President Jacques Chirac presenting the Legion of Honor to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Paris in 2006.

Vladimir Rodionov/TASS, via Getty Images

In 2001, Jacques Chirac, then the president of France, presented the Legion of Honor to Mr. Assad, who had taken power the year before. Little was known at the time about Mr. Assad, who had inherited the leadership of an oppressive government that was long headed by his father, but Western governments were eager to improve relations with Syria.

France recently began the process of revoking Mr. Assad’s medal, after joining with the United States and Britain last week in missile strikes on Syria, in retaliation for what is believed to be the latest instance in which the Assad government used chemical weapons on civilians. He has called such accusations baseless.

Rather than wait for that process to play out, Mr. Assad returned the medal, the diplomatic equivalent of quitting before being fired. In a statement, the Syrian Foreign Ministry described the award as a decoration given by a “follower of the United States that supports terrorists.”

In giving out honors, the risk of regret is higher with a prize awarded as liberally as the Legion’s green, white and gold medal on a red ribbon. The honor can be given each year to as many as 2,600 French citizens, who become members of the Order of the Legion, and up to 320 foreigners, who are honorees but not members.

Until last year, the maximum number of recipients each year was higher.

The Legion, created by Napoleon in 1802, has gone to more than one million people. French officials have estimated that there are about 93,000 living recipients.

The order does not reveal how many of the awards have been revoked.

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Computer Chip Visionaries Win Turing Award

Today, more than 99 percent of all new chips use the RISC architecture, according to the association.

“This is the one fundamental idea that has been sustained over the last several decades of chip design,” said Dave Ditzel, a chip industry veteran who studied with Mr. Patterson at Berkeley. Mr. Ditzel helped popularize many of the same ideas and is now building a new RISC chip at a start-up called Esperanto.


Google has developed new chips that were specifically designed for artificial intelligence applications.


Mr. Patterson and Mr. Hennessy were interested in simpler chips because they ran faster, consumed less power, made life easier for chip designers and allowed machines to evolve at a faster rate. In the mid-1980s, new RISC chips emerged from two Silicon Valley start-ups, Sun Microsystems and MIPS Technologies, becoming the standard for the computer workstations and servers that underpinned big corporate operations.

Those processors were eventually eclipsed by chips from Intel, which put its considerable muscle behind a competing design. But as computing expanded into smartphones, tablets, and other small devices — where power and space are at a premium — more and more chips used designs from a British company called ARM, short for Advanced RISC Machine.

As a book written by the two researchers in 1989, Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, became the standard text for chip design, even Intel took a partial step toward the RISC idea. Its chips continued to use their own complex way of talking to a computer’s software, but started to use some aspects of RISC.

Intel chips still drive the data centers that power the internet. But as these chips approach their physical limits, internet giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are pushing tasks onto a wide range of simpler processors that consume much less power, sparking a renaissance in chip design.

“Complexity is even more of an enemy than it was before,” Mr. Ditzel said. “We have to design differently.”

Mr. Patterson and Mr. Hennessy are at the heart of this change. Their book is now in its sixth edition. Mr. Hennessy is on the board of directors of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, after serving as the president of Stanford for 16 years. And Mr. Patterson works in the Google research lab that is designing low-powered chips specifically for artificial intelligence.

As time goes on, the world could move even more toward the RISC way of doing things, thanks to an organization called the RISC-V Foundation, which has published a chip architecture that anyone can use for free, said industry veteran Dennis Allison. The organization was founded by Dave Patterson and others from Berkeley.

“I expect this to play a vital role in the future,” Mr. Patterson said. “And the architecture is not that different from what John and I described back in 1980.”

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