It’s safe to say that of the VIPs who have attended the CFDA Fashion Awards over the years, there is just one who’s been to them all: the Trova. The silver statue made its first appearance at the inaugural CFDA awards in 1981, and has since been a mainstay who has been handed to the best and brightest in American fashion each year.

Created by sculptor Ernest Trova, the statue firmly cemented CFDA’s connection to the arts,  which continues to this day. In fact, this is a central theme at the 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards, which take place at the Brooklyn Museum on June 4.

Ernest Trova passed away in 2009. We asked Matthew Strauss, founder and director of the White Flag Projects arts non-profit in St. Louis, and close associate and family friend of Trova, to provide insights on the statue that is key to the CFDA Fashion Awards.

How did this connection come about ?

My understanding is that the commission was suggested by designer Arnold Scaasi, who had Ernest Trova’s work in his personal art collection. Like other prominent artists of the period such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, Ernest Trova worked for a time doing display work for a department store. The armless and faceless qualities of the Falling Man have frequently been described as a mannequin, although Trova himself did not like the comparison.

What insights/background do you have on our Trova statue?

Designed in 1981, the CFDA Award is an example of Trova’s Falling Man, an armless, pot-bellied male figure he used as a standardized representation of modern humanity. Trova’s prolific Falling Man sculpture was typically fabricated in chrome, bronze, or stainless steel and was once described by the New York Times as “among the best of contemporary American sculpture.” Throughout the 1960s and 70s, examples of the Falling Man were prominently displayed in dozens of major museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Guggenheim.

The CFDA Award is related to a series of self-contained figures initiated in 1969 that segmented Trova’s Falling Man figure into complex new compositions relying strictly on the forms available within dissections of the figure itself.

How does it fit into Ernest Trova’s overall artistic aesthetic?

Although the elements of the Falling Man used for the CFDA Award are fixed in place, it is closely related to his series of what he called “Hinged Figures” in which the segments of the figure can be repositioned on bolted hinges. Trova often worked though several versions of Falling Man configurations over long periods of time, and the CFDA Award is a modification of his sculpture Study/Falling Man (Flapman), 1970.

What is the one thing our winning designers should know about the Trova statue and Ernest Trova?

Trova considered the Falling Man series a single work-in-progress, with each work of art like one frame in a lengthy film. The design for the CFDA Award, unlike many other iconic trophies (Oscar, Grammy, Tony, Emmy), is part of a singular body of post-war art, and one frame in the theoretical film Trova described as being central to his concept.

To learn more about Trova’s work, follow @ernesttrova on Instagram or visit Difference Engine at the Lisson Gallery in Chelsea, New York, from June 29–August 10:

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Trova

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