Now You Know: How the "Trova" Became the CFDA's Oscar

Jessica Chastain CFDA Fashion Awards
Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Welcome to Now You Know, Eric Wilson's column that will help you become a fashion know-it-all in one quick read. Each week, he'll take a look at an endearing fashion influence and why it's relevant right now. Enjoy!

With the Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Awards fast approaching on Monday, let’s get ready to say, “And the Trova goes to…”

Wait, who’s Trova again?

It’s a little-known fact outside the fashion industry that the little silver statue that comes with a CFDA Fashion Award is called a Trova. While its name never caught on with quite the success of Oscar, Tony, or Emmy, the Trova has had the moniker since the early 1980s. The statue, surrealist in form, was designed by the sculptor Ernest Trova in the shape of a human figure with large flaps of its chest, back, and skull cut out and propped open like a Chevy in for service repairs. From the side view he looks rather like a tubby swimmer, about to do a swan dive.

Ernest Trova, who died in 2009, was a hugely successful artist from St. Louis, Mo., known primarily for a prolific series of paintings and sculptures in the 1960s and '70s that depicted a “Falling Man,” an armless, pot-bellied figure that was described in Trova’s obituary in The New York Times as “a symbol of imperfect humanity hurtling into the future.” The Trova award statue, which came later, was his distant cousin—spiffed up and shinier for the fashion crowd, but still seen by some designers as a little weird. Daryl Kerrigan, who won an emerging designer award in 1996, once said she thought it looked like a bottle opener.

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"The @CFDA Fashion Award looks a tubby swimmer, about to do a swan dive," says @ericwilsonsays.

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In a biography of the award on the fashion council’s web site, Stan Herman, a former president of the organization who was involved in its selection, said, “Trova just kind of snuck into our lives and when it was done, it was a little controversial, but it was done with good intent.” In case you are wondering, Trova, officially, does not have a gender.

A few years back, the CFDA attempted what appears to be a short-lived campaign to give Trova a buzzier profile, introducing its own Twitter handle (@CFDATrova) and a suitably twisted personality to match its shape. It was sort of amusing, as when Trova suggested a dream date for the awards ceremony would be the Stanley Cup, or when Trova tweeted:

Alas, Trova’s been rather shy of late, and hasn’t made a peep since 2012.

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