aurora james 2018 cfda awards
Designers

How CFDA Award Nominee Aurora James Prepped for the Big Night

With Elaine Welteroth by her side and lots of Dior makeup, it was an afternoon for the books.

Weston Wells
Before Aurora James walked onto the CFDA Awards step and repeat—a vision in a cream Danielle Frankel dress and a bejeweled braid cascading to the side—and before she took her seat at the Brooklyn Museum, among fellow nominees including Kerby Jean-Raymond, Thom Browne, and Raf Simons, she was at Dumbo House in Brooklyn, debating with her good friend and date for the night, Elaine Welteroth, about whether or not they should apply some Express Crest White Strips before departing for the evening.

“I’m not doing this, Elaine,” James says laughing, noting that they need to be in the car soon. Welteroth smiles and applies the strips to her teeth. It’s a big night for her friend, and an ultra-bright smile is a priority.

The founder and creative director of Brother Vellies, James landed on a short list of young, impactful designers primed for more success with a nomination for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent.

“Right now we’re manufacturing in South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Bali, Mali, Haiti, and Mexico,” James says of her collection, which is rooted in artisans from the aforementioned countries producing traditional styles. “To be recognized for the work that we do isn’t so much about me, it’s about the people across all of these different countries and cultures being able to do what they’re so amazing at doing. Supporting that cultural identity is important.” As is having a woman of color at the helm, given the fashion industry’s historic lack of diversity.

The the surprise of no one, James put together a gorgeous look for the awards, enlisting Alana Wright on makeup, Michael Warren on hair, and Andy Spencer on nails. More on that—and her special recognition—ahead.

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