What to Know About the 2021 CFDA Awards, from Emily Blunt's Hosting Gig to Zendaya's Big Honor

The Council of Fashion Designers of America's annual awards returns to an in-person event on Nov. 10

Emily Blunt/Zendaya/Anya taylor joy
Photo: Getty (3)

Everyone is sure to be "Best Dressed" at this award show!

The annual Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Awards is taking place on Nov. 10 this year, with Zendaya and Anya Taylor-Joy topping the A-list guest roster.

Recognized as one of fashion's most notable nights, the industry's top insiders will come together to honor the outstanding contributions to American fashion across every aspect of the business – from best design talent of the season, to spotlighting the relevant celebrities who helped shape the cultural style discourse.

The 2021 awards will return from a virtual event to an in-person ceremony for the first time since the start of the pandemic, and will be held at The Pool Room in NYC. Iconic designer and longtime chairman of the organization, Tom Ford, selected fashion-forward Emily Blunt to host.

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"Emily is one of the most talented actresses in the world. Her timeless style and elegance light up any room," Ford said of the Quiet Place star in an official press release. "The wonderful thing about Emily is that she is both kind and intelligent. I have great admiration for her, and I am so happy to have her as the host of this year's CFDA awards."

This year's award show will embody the "renewed energy" that American fashion is experiencing, according to CEO Steven Kolb. "This is an important moment in American fashion," he said in a statement. "There is much excitement about the return of New York City and New York Fashion Week, as well as the top caliber of diverse talent making their mark on the city and the global fashion landscape."

In addition to its efforts in propelling the American fashion industry forward, the CFDA supports all phases of a designer's lifecycle, whether they are a student, graduate, early emerging, or established professional. As a nonprofit trade organization, the CFDA also provides students with scholarship opportunities, as well as support designers during shows like New York Fashion Week (NYFW).

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 03: Tom Ford attends the CFDA Fashion Awards at the Brooklyn Museum of Art on June 03, 2019 in New York City.
Jamie McCarthy/FilmMagic

"The awards are CFDA's biggest fundraiser of the year supporting our scholarship program, and we look forward to our industry coming together, in person again, to celebrate the very best of American creativity," said Kolb.

The awards will honor this year's top designers in American womenswear, menswear, and accessories. Awards will also be given out to top international designers of the year, in addition to one emerging designer.

First time nominees include: Jerry Lorenzo for Fear of God, Edvin Thompson for Theophilio, Eli Russell Linnetz for ERL, Jameel Mohammed for KHIRY, Kenneth Nicholson, and Maisie Schloss for Maisie Wilen.

The CFDA Fashion Awards Guild submit nominations for each award category. The guild is comprised of retailers, journalists, stylists, influencers, and the 500-plus member designers of the CFDA. Nominations are approved by the CFDA Board of Directors, who also select the recipient for each honor.

Chelsea Clinton remembers the late designer Oscar de la Renta onstage at the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City.
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From the Fashion Icon Award to the Face of the Year Award, keep scrolling to learn more about the honors and the A-listers being recognized.

The Fashion Icon Award

The CFDA announced that Zendaya will be awarded this year's Fashion Icon Award, making history as the youngest person to ever receive the honor. The 25-year-old Euphoria and Dune star has made an indelible mark on the fashion industry throughout the years through her expressive street style and head-turning red carpets looks.

Need a refresher? The CFDA noted her most memorable looks, including the plunging purple Versace dress she wore at the 2021 BET Awards which paid homage to a 2003 Beyoncé look. Then there was the gold-plated fresh-off-the-runway Loewe dress for the Women in Film Awards, and Tom Ford's purple metal breastplate at the 2020 Critics Choice Awards, just to name a few.

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The actress has globally impacted the fashion industry, and has made remarkable contributions – like with the launch of her gender-fluid clothing collection, Daya by Zendaya. She supports emerging designers, while also partnering with top fashion houses. She's also served as a spokesperson for Lancôme, Bulgari and Valentino.

Iman, who received the accolade in 2010, will present Zendaya with the award. Other former recipients of the Fashion Icon award include Beyoncé, Naomi Campbell, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Jennifer Lopez.

CFDA Fashion Awards - Arrivals
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The Face of the Year Award

The CFDA has awarded Anya Taylor-Joy, 25, with the first-ever Face of the Year Award. Known for her role as Beth Harmon in the hit-Netflix series The Queen's Gambit, the actress has captivated audiences with her chic style, character transformation, and groundbreaking performance.

Model and actress Cara Delevingne will present Taylor-Joy with the award.

The Queen's Gambit
Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen's Gambit. PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX

The Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award

The CFDA joined The Geoffrey Beene Foundation in establishing this honor, which will be awarded to Dapper Dan this year. This not only marks the first time a Black designer will receive the award, but it makes Dan the first person without a formal runway show to ever accept the honor.

Although the legendary designer and New York native hasn't had a "formal" runway show, he's made his hometown streets of Harlem a runway for years. He showed his appreciation for the honor in an Instagram post which read: "The streets of Harlem have been my runway for 35 years. Isn't that where the major luxury brands got their inspiration from? Maybe logo-mania is an illusion. Thank you Harlem, I love you!"

Previous recipients include Bob Mackie, Narciso Rodriguez, Rick Owens, Norma Kamali, Betsey Johnson, Tom Ford and Vera Wang.

Dapper Dan
Neilson Barnard/Getty

Other CFDA Award Categories

American Womenswear Designer of the Year

Nominees: Catherine Holstein for KHAITE, Christopher John Rogers, Gabriela Hearst, Marc Jacobs, and Peter Do

American Menswear Designer of the Year

Nominees: Emily Adams Bode for BODE, Jerry Lorenzo for Fear of God, Mike Amiri for AMIRI, Telfar Clemens for Telfar, and Thom Browne

The American Accessories Designer of the Year

Nominees: Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen for The Row, Aurora James for Brother Vellies, Gabriela Hearst, Stuart Vevers for Coach, and Telfar Clemens for Telfar

2018 CFDA Fashion Awards - Show
Theo Wargo/Getty

American Emerging Designer of the Year

Nominees: Edvin Thompson for Theophilio, Eli Russell Linnetz for ERL, Jameel Mohammed for KHIRY, Kenneth Nicholson, and Maisie Schloss for Maisie Wilen

International Women's Designer of the Year

Nominees: Daniel Lee for Bottega Veneta, Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons for Prada, Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino, and Simon Porte Jacquemus for Jacquemus.

International Men's Designer of the Year

Nominees: Daniel Lee for Bottega Veneta, Dries Van Noten, Grace Wales Bonner for Wales Bonner, Rick Owens, and Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton.

Additional CFDA Honoree Awards

The Founder's Award in honor of Eleanor Lambert

Recipient: Aurora James for the 15 Percent Pledge

The Board of Directors' Tribute

Recipient: Yeohlee Teng

The Media Award in honor of Eugenia Sheppard

Recipient: Nina Garcia

The Environmental Sustainability Award

Recipient: Patagonia

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