Everything You Need to Know About This Year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalists—From Gators to Pups and, Yes, Dolly Parton

Every year, the CFDA and Vogue anoint a special group of promising up-and-coming American designers as contenders for its CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award. There are names you might recognize, others maybe not, but either way, every single person who makes the list is a talent worth checking out.

To really get us all acquainted, I spent the morning perusing the Web for the most interesting facts and tidbits about everyone nominated. I dare you to keep reading and not end up wanting to be besties with at least a couple of people below. Keep an eye out for gators, pups, and, naturally, Dolly Parton.

Eva Fehren
Designer Eva Zuckerman
The fine-jewelry designer lays claim to the architecture and geometry of NYC as inspiration for her collection, and chances are you’ve seen it peppered all over the red carpet. That delicate helix’esque ring spotted on stylish fingers? Hers.

Edie Parker
Designer Brett Heyman
Hard box clutches came majorly back into style over the latter part of the decade, and Edie Parker’s bespoke carriers are at the top of the chic list. The made-in-America bags have Heyman’s collection of vintage evening bags from the ’50s and ’60s to thank. And cute-alert: The line is named for her daughter.

Gigi Burris Millinery
Designer Gigi Burris
If you’re ever in the market for luxe headwear, your searching days are done. To whit: this sixth-generation Floridian (hey, fellow Florida girl!) says alligator skin is one of her favorites to work with, especially so if it comes from one caught on her family’s property. She’s got jaunty hats on offer but also headbands and fascinators, should Kate Middleton send an invite your way.

Grey Ant
Designers Natalie Levy and Grant Krajecki
How’s this for fascinating: Krajecki spent his formative years traveling the country in a VW van with his fam before settling in L.A., where design work included making costumes for the Ice Capades, Vegas showgirls, and conjoined twins who also happened to be porn stars (full bio here). Co-designer Levy told StyleCaster the year she’d be most interested in time-traveling to, stylistically, would be 2109, and if she could get a piece of fashion advice from anyone, it’d be Dolly Parton. Together, the two make the sort of chunky sunnies you’d see on someone cool and not be able to stop thinking about.

Designers Matt Orley, Alex Orley, and Samatha Florence
This menswear started with luxe knits and focuses there, with the trio behind it (two brothers, plus Matt’s fiancee) all living in NYC. The bros didn’t always play on the same team, working at competing retail stores across the street from each other in high school, and Matt, rather adorably, told Fashion We Like that his biggest regret was “waiting 10 years to propose.”

Paul Andrew
Designer Paul Andrew
The British-born Andrew entered the world of shoes after stints at Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Alexander McQueen and now oversees the sort of chic shoes moms and daughters would both covet. His approach to various materials stems from a fascinating situation: His father was the Queen’s upholsterer at Windsor Castle (per WWD).

Ryan Roche
Designer Ryan Roche
Maker of hats and personality-filled knits made from cashmere from a women’s co-op in Nepal, Roche first wanted to be a cowgirl growing up in Idaho and told Natalie Joos from blog Tales of Endearment that her favorite color is pink because “no better color exists in so many lovely shades.” And those perfect-finish hats run in the family, with her grandma working as a milliner in the ’20s.

Simon Miller
Designers Daniel Corrigan and Jake Sargent
What started as luxe jeans for him has expanded into a range including more pieces to finish off a full outfit, all under the guidance of Corrigan and Sargent (who took over for Miller when he left the label). The guys do their own indigo dyeing in Los Angeles, are prepping to release women’s, and, thanks to this Steven Alan interview, we know that Corrigan is a cutie.

Tanya Taylor
Designer Tanya Taylor
When you talk with Taylor, you’re struck by how genuinely sweet she seems. The Canadian designer makes playful, feminine clothes that aren’t scared of bright colors. Things to know about her, via The Luxe Life: She’s one of those outliers who started off her college experience studying finance, has hand-painted an entire batch of Fashion Week invites, and seriously loves pomegranate seeds.

Wes Gordon
Designer West Gordon
This Georgia boy can be counted on for chic, well-tailored pieces for both a big day at the office and a cocktail party after; education-wise, he attended fashion school in London and interned for Oscar de la Renta. The most adorable thing to know about him? He has a cockapoo named Bird who just turned two, has her own Instagram, and even got a work badge to come into Gordon’s office.

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