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The Coty American Fashion Critics' Awards (awarded 1943–1984) were created in 1942 by the cosmetics and perfume company Coty, Inc. to promote and celebrate American fashion, and encourage design during the Second World War. In 1985, the Coty Awards were discontinued with the last presentation of the awards in September 1984; the CFDA Awards fulfill a similar role. It was casually referred to as "fashion's Oscars" because it once held great importance within the fashion industry and the award ceremonies were glitzy galas.
The Coty Awards were conceived and created by Coty, Inc. Executive Vice President, Jean Despres, founder of The Fragrance Foundation and FiFi Awards, and Grover Whalen (a member of the New York City Mayor's Committee, and president of the 1939 New York World's Fair). The fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert was employed to promote and produce the awards.
The awards were given solely to designers based in America, unlike the Neiman Marcus Fashion Awards. Until its discontinuation in 1985, the Coty Award was considered one of the most prestigious awards in the field of fashion. The awards were designed by Malvina Hoffman. The womenswear awards are popularly known as Winnies; the menswear award which began in 1968 has no name. Repeat awards were the Return Award and the Hall of Fame award. Special Awards were also awarded to designers in specialist fields.
The popularity of this award began to decline in the late 1970s due to perceived commercial interests by the parent company. In 1979, designers Calvin Klein and Halston announced they would no longer accept the Winnie award. The same year, in 1979, Coty released the Coty Awards make up kit in order to profit off of the awards ceremony, which was perceived by the fashion designers to have cheapened the event. The newly founded Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) appeared more democratic in ideology and began to compete with the Coty Award by 1980 with the CFDA Awards.
In June 1985, Donald Flannery, the senior vice-president of Pfizer, Inc., Coty's parent company, announced that since the awards had successfully brought America into the worldwide fashion scene, it was decided to discontinue them.
Recipients of the award
|Year||Winnie||Special Award(s)||Additional citations|
|1943||Norman Norell||Lilly Daché (millinery), John Frederics (millinery)||Hattie Carnegie (fashion designer & retailer), Clare Potter (American sportswear), Charles Cooper, Mainbocher (American couture), Claire McCardell (American sportswear), Valentina (American couture).|
|1944||Claire McCardell||Phelps Associates (leather accessories), Sally Victor (millinery)|
|1945||Gilbert Adrian, Tina Leser, Emily Wilkens|
|1946||Omar Kiam (of Ben Reig), Vincent Monte-Sano, Clare Potter||Ceil Chapman (party dresses), Helen Morgan (raincoats), Carolyn Schnurer (bathing suits), Wallace Mackey (play shoes), Morris Wolock (flat shoes, "shank's mare"), Brooke Cadwallader (scarves), Nina Wolf (jewelry)|||
|1947||Jacob H. Horwitz (junior fashions), Mark Mooring (couture design for Bergdorf Goodman), Nettie Rosenstein (high end wholesale), Adele Simpson (medium end wholesale)||The awards of 1947 recognised the work of the four main branches of the fashion industry: bespoke high-end design, high end wholesale, mid-priced wholesale, and junior fashion.|
|1948||Hattie Carnegie||Joseph de Leo (furs), Esther Dorothy (furs), Maximilian (furs)|
|1949||Pauline Trigère||David Evins (shoes), Toni Owen (American sportswear)|
|Year||Winnie||Special Award(s)||Return Award(s)||Hall of Fame||Additional citations|
|1950||Charles James, Bonnie Cashin||Mabel & Charles Julianelli (shoes), Nancy Melcher (lingerie)|
|1951||Jane Derby||Anne Fogarty (prettiest dresses), Vera Maxwell (American sportswear), Sylvia Pedlar (lingerie)||Norman Norell, Pauline Trigère|
|1952||Ben Zuckerman, Ben Sommers (of Capezio)||Karen Stark at Harvey Berin (concept of dressing), Sydney Wragge (concept of dressing)|
|1953||Tom Brigance||Helen Lee (children's clothing), John Moore at Matty Talmack (evening wear)|
|1954||James Galanos||Charles James (innovative cutting)|
|1955||Anne Klein, Jeanne Campbell, Herbert Kasper||Adolfo (millinery)|
|1956||Luis Estevez, Sally Victor||Gertrude & Robert Goldworm (knitwear)||James Galanos||Norman Norell|
|1957||Leslie Morris, Sydney Wragge||Emeric Partos (furs)|
|1958||Arnold Scaasi||Donald Brooks (influence on evening clothes), Jean Schlumberger (jewelry)||Ben Zuckerman||Claire McCardell (posthumous)|
|1959||James Galanos, Pauline Trigère|
|Year||Winnie||Menswear Award(s)||Special Award(s)||Return Award(s)||Hall of Fame||Additional citations|
|1980||Michaele Vollbracht||Jhane Barnes||Jeffrey Aronoff (handwoven fabrics), Stewart Richer for Reminiscence (retailers), Ron Chereskin (menswear)|
|1981||Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis, Geoffrey Beene||Jhane Barnes, Alexander Julian, Ralph Lauren||Barry Kieselstein-Cord (jewelry), Alex Mate & Lee Brooks (jewelry), Fernando Sánchez, Fabrice Simon (beaded evening wear), Hot Sox (hosiery), Robert Lee Morris (jewelry), Laura Pearson at Tijuca (knitwear), Andrew Fezza (menswear special award), Nancy Knox (menswear special award), Robert Lighton (menswear special award)||After Beene, Klein and Lauren all rejected their awards, it was decided that all nominees would receive awards.|
|1982||Adri||Jeffrey Banks||Susan Bennis & Warren Edwards (shoes), Jay Lord Hatters, Patricia Underwood (millinery), Ted Muehling (jewelry), Allen Veness (weaving and knitwear), Robert Comstock (men's outerwear), Zoran (men's separates)||Norma Kamali, Donna Karan & Louis Dell'Olio (of Anne Klein), Sal Cesarani (for menswear return award)||Geoffrey Beene (fifth Coty Award citation)|
|1983||Willi Smith||Alan Flusser||Perry Ellis (womenswear), Bill Blass, Alexander Julian, Carlos Falchi (handbags), Susan Horton, Selma, Jon & Barbara Weiser of Charivari||Perry Ellis (for menswear return award)||Norma Kamali|
|1984||Adrienne Vittadini||Andrew Fezza||Milena Canonero, Robin Kahn (jewelry), Barry Kieselstein-Cord (jewelry), Michelle & Janis Savitt (jewelry)||Jhane Barnes (for menswear return award)||Donna Karan & Louis Dell'Olio (of Anne Klein), Perry Ellis (for menswear)|
- Welters, Linda (2005). Twentieth-century American Fashion. Berg Publishers. p. 116. ISBN 978-1-84520-073-2.
- McDowell, Colin (1984). McDowell's Directory of Twentieth Century Fashion. Frederick Muller. pp. 299–301. ISBN 0-584-11070-7.
- Blanco F, José; Doering, Mary D.; Hunt-Hurst, Patricia; Vaughan Lee, Heather (2015). Clothing and Fashion: American Fashion from Head to Toe (4 volumes): American Fashion from Head to Toe. ABC-CLIO. p. 96. ISBN 9781610693103.
- "Coty Fashion Awards Discontinued". The New York Times. 1985-06-14. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-03-28.
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- Mulvagh, Jane, Obituary of Eleanor Lambert, published in The Independent, October 9, 2003
- McDowell, Colin (1984). McDowell's Directory of Twentieth Century Fashion. Frederick Muller. p. 302. ISBN 0-584-11070-7.
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- Hyde, Nina (1981-09-26). "Beene Gets 7th Coty Award". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
- Coty Homepage
- "Coty marks 100 years, taking time to smell success" – Associated Press article