Grace Ling is the winner of the first CFDA/Genesis House AAPI Design + Innovation Grant, receiving a grand prize of $100,000.
The participants, who included Andrew Kwon and Haoran Li and Siying Qu of Private Policy, were challenged to create a bespoke fashion collection highlighting the tension and balance between their Asian heritage and modernity over the course of five months.
The winner was revealed at a private event at Genesis House Wednesday night.
The collections were judged by Jodie Chan, vice president of global marketing and communications at Carolina Herrera; Laurent Claquin, president of Kering Americas; Rachel Espersen, executive director, brand experience at Genesis House and Studios at Genesis Motor America; Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the CFDA, and Wen Zhou, CEO and cofounder of 3.1 Phillip Lim.
“It has been an incredible experience working with the CFDA and these immensely talented designers throughout this one-of-a-kind program supporting the AAPI community,” said Espersen. “Our three finalists produced beautiful works of art that showcase their unique style and interpretation of their heritage, and we’re deeply proud of their journeys over the course of these last few months.”
Ling produced a collection of three full looks inspired by a femme fatale character, each representing seduction, transformation and initiation. Known for blending futurism and sustainability, Ling used a unique 3D-printing process to create one of the looks from the collection. Showcasing a new feminine aesthetic, each look blends aspects of Asian heritage with modern touches, incorporating references to figures from Asian folktales along with motifs such as hair, which symbolizes respect in Asian culture.
“I am very honored to be the recipient of Genesis House’s first AAPI Innovation Grant with CFDA,” said Ling. “It is a privilege to be able to combine modernity, heritage and innovation in my practice, and this has given me the opportunity to do so. Genesis House is very inspiring in these aspects, and I look forward to taking these values with me in my future work.”
Born in Singapore and based in New York, LIng studied fashion design at Parsons School of Design and Central Saint Martins in London (having interned at The Row and Thom Browne) and launched her brand immediately after graduation in 2020. Her fashion label was founded on using 3D-printing and CGI technology. She is recognized for using 3D-printed metal pieces and sculptural silhouettes in her designs. Her clothes have been worn by such celebrities as Jennifer Lopez, Karlie Kloss, Ashley Graham and Emma Chamberlain.
Genesis and the CFDA revealed their initiative to support the next generation of AAPI fashion designers in June and selected Kwon, Ling and Li and Qu of Private Policy as the three inaugural participants, as reported. The participants were provided expertise and counsel from Prabal Gurung, Grace Cha, innovation consultant, and Stephanie Horton, senior director of global marketing at Google as they curated their collections over the five-month period. The designers also had access to Alina Cho; Fernando Gracia and Laura Kim, founders of Monse; actress Jodie Turner-Smith; Espersen; Sandra Park, vice president, merchandising manager, menswear at Saks, and Kolb.
The participants each received a $40,000 grant on behalf of Genesis to finance their designs. As part of the challenge, they participated in an immersion trip to Seoul to study the country’s heritage and explore Korean culture as a source of inspiration for their collections.
The three collections were showcased at Genesis House in New York Wednesday night, alongside select prices from well-known AAPI fashion designers Altuzarra, Bibhu Mohapatra, Monse, Naeem Khan, Peter Som, PH5, Prabal Gurung and Vivienne Tam.
Guests heard from the grant’s participants on the inspiration behind their collections before Ling was awarded the additional $60,000 for the development of her collection, bringing the total grant awarded to $100,000. The final designs will be displayed at Genesis House from Thursday through March 3.
“Each of the three finalists of the inaugural CFDA/Genesis House AAPI Design + Innovation Grant program showcased exceptional work, which made the selection of a winner very difficult,” said CFDA’s Kolb. “Congratulations to Grace Ling as well as Andrew Kwon and Private Policy. We look forward to seeing you continue to build your brands in innovative ways while honoring the invaluable contributions the AAPI community has made to American fashion.”
Genesis House, located in New York’s Meatpacking District, offers experiences influenced by Korean culture and community, culinary excellence and innovative architecture and technology. The lifestyle space, with a Korean atmosphere, features the Showroom, Restaurant and Cellar Stage.