Fashion and art can be inextricably linked.

Case in point, Wednesday’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Design Challenge, which, in partnership with Nordstrom, took this year’s 10 finalists to the Whitney Museum of American Art.

For the challenge, organizers identified important American artists exhibited at the Whitney, then assigned one to each designer and tasked them to create a look inspired by the artist’s life, body of work, or unique perspective on the American experience and landscape.

For example, Raul Lopez was informed by Jeff Koons. Emily Adams Bode looked to John Baldessari, while Rebecca de Ravenel was paired with Tina Barney, and Danielle Corona with Jasper Johns. Matthew Adams Dolan was assigned Keith Haring, and Kerby Jean-Raymond looked to Mickalene Thomas.

“Kismet,” the Pyer Moss designer said of the pairing. “I know Mickalene personally and have always admired her work.”

“Mine was Judy Chicago, which was amazing and right up my alley,” Batsheva Hay noted. “I think this is the most fun thing we have had to do so far.”

Jonathan Cohen added with a smile, “I got paired with Jean-Michel Basquiat, who is one of my favorite artists, and I have nothing to complain about.”

After presenting the results to the judges, it was time to celebrate with a cocktail party hosted by Mark Holgate, Steven Kolb, Virginia Smith, and Nordstrom. Each finalist was on hand with a muse in their designs.

“Oh my gosh, it was super-fun,” said Indya Moore, who served as Scosha Woolridge’s muse and had shown off the Frank Stella-inspired creations in front of the Selection Committee earlier in the dat. “I was really surprised by the fact that they were actually interested in me, because I am here for Scosha, representing her. I am a reflection of her art. They wanted to get to know me which was very surprising and very touching.

“I will anything for Scosha, and Anna Wintour and Joseph Altuzarra,” the star of Pose on Fx added. “Those are my babes. I love them. Joseph has my heart, and Anna…I want to give her mine too so I hope she is open and ready!”

Christian Cowan’s artist was Barbara Kruger and his muse was Mona Matsuoka. “I am so happy with the way the outfit turned out,” the green-haired designer said. “I always focus on escapism and fantasy and it was really nice to reflect on some real reality, like gun control and gun violence.”

Other designer muses were Kelela, Blanca Padilla, Aube Jolicoeur, Elibeidy Dani, Ebonee Davis and Ashton Sanders, Lily Nova, Dyllon Burnside, and Madeline Brewer. The guests – including Martha Hunt, Wes Gordon, Prabal Gurung, Tyler Mitchell, Ji Oh, Marc Alary, Gigi Burris, Chris Gelinas, Brett Heyman, Aurora James, Thaddeus O’Neil, Adam Selman, Devon Windsor, and Eva Zuckerman – admired the designs.

Pyer Moss’s Jean-Raymond called the challenge “super-easy.”

“I say that because I want people who come after me to be motivated and not intimidated by the experience,” he elaborated. “I think a lot of people psych themselves out about touching and reaching their dreams, and I don’t want to be that person to be like, ‘it was hard, you can’t do that.’ If I can do it, you can do it.”

Talk about inspiration.


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