NEW YORK — With its 25 incoming members, the Council of Fashion Designers of America is reinforcing its egalitarian point of view.

This story first appeared in the June 21, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Determined not to be pigeonholed as the last bastion for high-end ready-to-wear fashion, the CFDA is striving to have an assortment of members beyond widely recognized designers. While this year’s crew is 25, five fewer than last year, the group is in keeping with the all-are-welcome mind-set that has pervaded in recent years. CFDA executive director Steven Kolb said, “The trend over the last couple of years has been a shift from letting in a dozen designers [as was the case for many years.] There is a more interesting mix that reflects what the industry is today.”

House of Waris’ Waris Ahluwalia, Rebecca Minkoff, Bibhu Mohapatra, Sophie Theallet and George Esquivel are among the newbies. There are also several who have been quietly working away, like L’Wren Scott, Steven Alan, Shelly Steffe and Pamella Roland’s Pamella DeVos. Major brand names are represented, thanks to Calvin Klein’s Ulrich Grimm, BCBG Max Azria Group’s Lubov Azria and Ann Taylor’s Lisa Axelson.

“There are high-end ready-to-wear designers, but we’re also seeing designers at the contemporary level and designers in other categories like jewelry and accessories,” Kolb said. “And we’re seeing designers from brands. We now have four members who work for Calvin Klein in addition to Calvin Klein himself.”

Diverse as the new group is, it is not as though the CFDA’s membership criteria have eased up. “It’s still hard to get into the CFDA. You have to be talented and have demonstrated that talent,” Kolb said.

Other inductees include Erickson Beamon’s Vicki Beamon and Karen Erickson, Baum Vision’s Shane Baum, Robert Geller, Gary Graham, Sang A’s Sang A Im-Propp, Commonwealth Utilities’ Anthony Keegan, Adam Kimmel, Kule’s Nikki Kule, Kimberly McDonald, Juan Carlos Obando, Monique Péan, Fine Jewelry’s Monica Rich Kosann and Robert Rodriguez.

Vera Wang will throw a party for the class of 2010 at her Park Avenue apartment in October.

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