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The 2023 Fashion Scholarship Fund Gala Celebrated Anna Wintour, Emma Grede and the Future of the Industry

Students and Virgil Abloh Post-Modern Scholars received over $1 million in scholarships.

Photo: Darian DiCianno/ of Fashion Scholarship Fund

On Monday night, the Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) held its annual gala, celebrating the 127 scholars who will receive a joint award of over $1 million in scholarships.

To kick off the evening, host Karlie Kloss and 2022 Chairman’s Award winner Naecia Dixon welcomed Anna Wintour as an honoree of the event. 

“Growing up in Jamaica, there were three things that I knew were true: the sun rises, the grass is green and Anna Wintour is Vogue,” Dixon said. “She has supported the next generation wherever she could as a champion of talent and a nurturer of enterprise.” 

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Earlier in the day, Wintour had hosted the FSF class of 2023 in the Vogue offices. Fatmata Camara, one of the scholars and Virgil Abloh Post-Modern Scholarship Fund recipient, told Fashionista it was electric. 

“When she entered the room, we were dead silent, and I think that speaks to the amount of respect she’s been able to command,” she said. “There are multiple generations who have learned so much from this woman… It’s good to see how invested and how grounded she still is at the level that she’s at.” 

On stage at the gala, Wintour shared that the visit filled her with gratitude “for all the program makes possible.”

Anna Wintour.

Photo: Getty Images for Fashion Scholar

As Wintour delivered her acceptance speech, she paid tribute to the late Virgil Abloh, whose namesake scholarship awarded an additional 27 students through the FSF. She also advised the scholars in the audience: “Just be who you are. Don’t worry about what so and so is doing… It has to come from you the way it did from Virgil. I learned so much from him in the time all too short that I knew him. Study his work, study his generosity, study how he reached out to everyone he ever met… Watch that example, learn from that example and remember his values. We should all try to do just a little bit of what he did to keep our future in good hands.”

Shortly thereafter, the FSF introduced the four finalists competing for the $25,000 Chairman’s Award: Olivia Baba, Clay Lute, Sofia Enriquez and Julian Tong. Each scholar presented their individual case studies, in preparation for the winner to be announced at the end of the night.

Emma Grede.

Photo: Getty Images for Fashion Scholar

Later, Emma Grede — co-founder and CEO of Good American, founding partner of Skims and chairwoman of The Fifteen Percent Pledge — accepted her award, and offered the room the two things she believes are needed to be successful in the fashion industry: “unwavering self-belief and an unmatched work ethic.” 

“I’ve believed in [myself] forever,” she said. “For a long time, fashion has been seen through such a narrow lens, but not anymore. The people are changing, the business is changing; with that change comes a real opportunity for real inclusion and a broader viewpoint… There are plenty of seats at the table, and I really think that your time is now.”

As the event neared its end, Kloss and FSF Board President Jennifer Vecchio announced the winner of the Chairman’s Award to 2023 Virgil Abloh Post-Modern Scholar Clay Lute, an LIM College student whose case study focused on a physical and virtual adaptive clothing line, marketed toward autistic children. 

“I’m so excited to work with all of you to build this new future,” he said as he accepted the award.

Clay Lute.

Photo: Darian DiCianno/ of Fashion Scholarship Fund

Shannon Abloh, president of the Virgil Abloh Foundation and the late designer’s wife, told Fashionista: “I was one of the judges when [Lute] was pitching, and his idea was so dynamic, and he’s so dynamic as a person. To be able to make something that’s so comfortable for autistic children and for them to feel like there’s a place for them in the gaming world and to feel accepted there is really amazing. He was a standout for all of us.”

The evening was ultimately a celebration of what the future of fashion holds, and a testament to the work professionals and educators are willing to put into uplifting and empowering the next generation bound to change the landscape of the industry. As Parsons student Izzy Kostrzewa told Fashionista: “FSF wants to show us that we are the future, because they believe in us.”

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