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Breaking Down the CDFA Awards 2023: Could More Women Be Headed for Creative Director Roles?

On Monday 6, November the CFDA Fashion Awards were held at the the American Museum of Natural History, hosted by Anne Hathaway.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America or CFDA Awards is an annual event to honor people in the fashion industry who have a recognized ability, standing and integrity, and must be actively engaged in creative fashion design.

The Oscars of Fashion.

Membership to the CFDA is by invitation only and is considered the “Oscars” of fashion design. For the Stylists who dress the attendees and for the guests themselves, heavy research is applied with every detail of the evening’s looks being heavily scrutinized. From the outside, the craftsmanship speaks volumes, and for those in the know, the messaging does too.

Winners of the 2023 CFDA awards:

  • Media Award - Alina Cho

  • American Menswear - Willy Chavarria

  • Founders Award - Domenico De Sole

  • American Accessories Designer - Mary Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen - The Row

  • American Emerging Designer - Rachel Scott (Diotima)

  • Lifetime Achievement - Maria Cornejo

  • Fashion Icon Award - Serena Williams

  • International Award - J.W. Anderson

  • Directors' Tribute - Vera Wang

  • Environmental Sustainability - Mara Hoffman

  • American Womenswear - Catherine Holstein (Khaite)

  • Innovation - Gwyneth Paltrow (Goop)

Women Led At The CFDA Awards So Where Are The Female Creative Directors?

More than 75% of the winners at the CFDA Awards were women, 55% of which were women of color. Could this be a move in the direction of gender equality in the fashion industry as a whole?

Despite the recognition of the contribution of so many women in fashion however, there’s an accompanying undercurrent of discontentment on social media from the fashion community, tired of seeing white men as Creative Directors at top fashion houses.

Recognition from peers and icons is indeed a great honour but currently there seems to be a gap between who represents a brand’s creative direction and who is being acknowledging for their “excellence” in the industry.

Will this wave of female fashion talent eventually trickle into positions of leadership at luxury fashion houses, or will the most public of creative leadership roles still go to the same circle of, namely, white men?

Women only make up 35% in the creative industry as a whole and in fashion, it doesn't look like the pendulum will be swinging to the middle anytime soon. From Seán McGirr, who was announced as the new creative director replacing Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen in October to Sabato Sarno recently named Creative Director of Gucci, it seems clear that there are still many barriers keeping women from these roles, and little desire to remove them.

While the fashion community and media continues to draw attention to the gender deficit in the industry, the winners at the 2023 CFDA Awards are a reminder of the talent available and that is actively changing the industry just by doing what they do.


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