Times A-Changin’: Instagram to Receive Fashion Journalism Award from CFDA

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Last night the Council of Fashion Designers of America, or CFDA, revealed the nominees for the annual CFDA Fashion Awards, which will be held in New York on June 1. Among categories like Best Womenswear Designer and Best Accessories Designer, the CFDA also announced the recipients of their special awards, New York designer Betsey Johnson will receive the ‘Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award’, J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler will receive ‘The Founder’s Award in Honor of Eleanor Lambert,’ and Instagram will receive ‘The Media Award in Honor of Eugenia Sheppard.’  

Yes, Instagram, a tech brand, will receive special recognition at this year’s awards. Eugenia Sheppard, who the award is named after, was one of the most influential fashion writers in the 1950’s and 1960’s and is credited with inventing the way we write and think about fashion today. Sheppard not only reported on the dresses going down the runway, but the people wearing them. She was one of the first to point out where fashion and society collided. As Andy Warhol remarked upon her death, “she invented fashion and gossip together.”

As such, the Eugenia Sheppard award has gone to hugely influential people in fashion since it was launched in 1987; New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham, New York Times fashion critic Amy Spindler, Photographer Bruce Weber, Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley, and Paper Magazine editor in chief Kim Hastreiter, are just some of the honorees. So how does Instagram fit in here exactly?

The CFDA has always been pretty tech savvy, they have 358,000 Twitter followers, and 249,000 followers on Instagram, and back in 2000, when the internet was just a glimmer of what it is today, they even gave out a ‘Most Stylish Dot.Com Award’ to PleatsPlease.com, a gesture which showed they were open to how the web would change fashion.

There is no question that Instagram has revolutionized the way we see fashion – would the Zoolander reunion at Valentino have happened without Instagram? But Instagram is not the one effecting those changes, it is the influential fashion editors, models, and bloggers that are using this tool to in order to expand the reach of fashion. And yes we know that there is always a degree of politics involved in awards, whether it’s the Oscars or the CFDA’s, but it still seems somewhat disheartening to give an award that has such a personal history, whose recipients have brought so much of themselves to the way they interpret fashion for the rest of us. It doesn’t seem right to give it to a corporation as a whole. Because as much as we love and use Instagram daily, it’s not the app that keeps us constantly refreshing, it’s the people that we like and we follow that do.


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