When it came to attending his first-ever CFDA Awards, Brandon Blackwood went all out. And for good reason: The designer was nominated for American Accessory Designer of the Year, a feat well-deserved after achieving great success with his powerful and succinct “End Systemic Racism” canvas totes. Since the bag’s initial release in 2020, which arrived amid swelling protests against racial injustice, it has been heavily Instagram’ed, snapped, and worn by style mavens such as Kim Kardashian. Blackwood has found similar success with his trending trunk bags, which frequently sell out and come in everything from a neutral brown canvas to a cow print pony hair. For Blackwood, the night felt like a culmination of hard work, savvy marketing, and powerful design work.
To really make things special, Blackwood turned to Italian luxury house Schiaparelli for his first ever piece of couture (there were a lot of firsts last night). The garment: A black blazer featuring three-dimension flowers along the breast line, deftly mixing together traditional masculine and feminine codes. “I went to Paris for fashion week and went shopping at Schiaparelli and absolutely fell in love with the staff,” Blackwood says of how the showstopping look came together. “Three days later I was invited to the couture show. I saw a piece that was originally womenswear and knew I had to have it. So I asked the team to create a menswear version and they said yes. Four months, four fittings—the final fitting we flew their team into New York for—and the look was complete. This was a special moment for me as this was the first men’s couture piece they’d ever made.”
Blackwood kicked off the night with 25 bottles of Armand de Brignac champagne and a hotel room full of his valued team members, friends, and his nail artist, Melissa Samuel (AKA @finesseyourclaws). Then it was time for the ceremony, where plenty of people carried a Blackwood bag, including models Anok Yai and Ashley Graham, model and activist Bethann Hardison, and Jacques Agbobly of BlackBoyKnits. Once the ceremony ended, Blackwood headed back to the hotel, where close friends and family were waiting to continue the celebrations long into the night.