c.2013 New York Times News Service

c.2013 New York Times News Service

How do you predict a winner?

When it comes to the Oscars, you either go with your gut or you take into consideration any number of tangible factors like box-office receipts and results of earlier film awards. When it comes to the Trovas, which are fashion’s version of the Oscars, you used to be able to stand outside the offices of Condé Nast and poll the editors who voted.

The Trovas sometimes get a bad rap. Hardly anyone refers to those shiny silver statues handed out each June by the Council of Fashion Designers of America by their nickname (after the late sculptor Ernest Trova, who designed the trophy in the early 1980s). Until recently, many designers just complained that they might as well have been fixed, as the same handful of megastars took home the prizes year after year.

But that perception has slowly changed since the fashion council expanded the voting pool to include many bloggers, editors from smaller magazines and nontraditional retailers. One list of potential voters provided to designers this year included more than 1,600 names, only 30 of them from American Vogue, compared with roughly 420 who voted in 2009. (The list included several errors, and not all of those people are likely to vote, but it does reflect the broader outreach of the council.)

As a result, the awards, on June 3, while inclusive of perennial nominees like Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang and Proenza Schouler for best women’s wear designer, appear unusually competitive. For those following along at home, here is a completely unscientific, and overly insider, betting guide to nominees for the big three prizes (plus the Swarovski-sponsored awards for newer designers).


Proenza Schouler: Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough have won four times in their 10-year history, including the top women’s prize in 2011 and 2007 (a tie). Based on reviews alone, the category should be a tossup with Marc Jacobs, but the designers’ Internet-surfed photographic prints for spring could push them over the edge. Odds: 2-1

Marc Jacobs: Jacobs is the only designer who can afford to recreate the sun on a runway, and all hail the man who makes pajamas a fashion statement. Odds: 5-2

Alexander Wang: He didn’t bomb in his Paris debut at Balenciaga, which is frankly heroic, but his own fall collection didn’t win many fans back home. Odds: 10-1


Thom Browne: The man who popularized shrunken gray suits for stylish guys is finally getting somewhere with women (see: Michelle Obama; his fall runway). So he’s nominated in the wrong category this time. Odds: 6-1

Michael Bastian: Since winning the men’s title in 2011, the prep master has become a little edgy, which might frighten those devoted readers of GQ. Odds: 6-1

Duckie Brown: Steven Cox and Daniel Silver are insider favorites among men’s editors and had a stellar year on the runway, so the cheering squad has been out in force. Odds: 5-1


Proenza Schouler: The designers’ PS1 bag has had its share of knockoffs, but the original is holding strong in a range of new colors (with a loyal following even among men, based on the fans strolling into their Madison Avenue store). What’s new? Odds: 5-1

Alexander Wang: Wang’s forte is the retail sweet spot with handbags priced just under $1,000, and editors who adore his pluck are likely to reward him. Odds: 3-1

Phillip Lim: A customer favorite who doesn’t get always get the editorial hype he deserves, but accessories is still a relatively new category for Lim. Odds: 5-1


Suno: Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty are super likeable. They have put a lot of love into their 4-year-old collection of quirky, contemporary prints, and would surely like some love in return. Odds: 4-1

Creatures of the Wind: Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters are so kooky, so intellectually precious, it’s hard to imagine they can lose in a year in which neither Joseph Altuzarra nor Prabal Gurung were nominated. Odds: 2-1

Cushnie et Ochs: Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs exemplify the clothes they design — beautiful, daring, but just a little bit quiet. Odds: 4-1


Tim Coppens: He’s Belgian, which automatically gives him an edge. But utilitarian designs such as these are often overlooked by voters. Odds: 5-1

Todd Snyder: Being the oldest new designer in the lot (Snyder worked for Ralph Lauren and J.Crew for nearly two decades before starting his line) means knowing a lot of people in the business, which always helps. Odds: 2-1

Public School: Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne are graduates of the fashion council’s incubator program. There’s not much of their clothes out there, but they look really cool. Odds: 4-1


Pamela Love: Daggers, snakes, spiders and arrowheads have drawn raves from editors, but this is Love’s third nomination and she’s not getting any younger. Odds: 5-1

Irene Neuwirth: Representing Los Angeles, Neuwirth has been dressing celebrities in raw-stone jewelry since 2003. Odds: 5-1

Jennifer Meyer: Meyer was a runner up in last year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition, a distinction that almost inevitably leads to a fashion award. Plus, she’s married to Tobey Maguire. Odds: 4-5