Jennifer Lopez was honored with the Fashion Icon trophy at tonight’s CFDA Awards. While the award recognizes an individual’s natural sense of style, love for fashion, and willingness to take risks, Lopez deferred most of her acceptance speech to the individuals who have helped craft her iconic looks over the years. She began by thanking Andrea Lieberman, her stylist from the 1990s, who famously dressed her in the plunging green Versace dress that inspired Google Images. She also acknowledged her current styling team, Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn, and paid tribute to late beauty icons Kevyn Aucoin and Oribe. Lopez dedicated her award to their memory with tears in her eyes. She then thanked the neighbors she grew up with in the Bronx who introduced her to hip-hop, the many designers she has collaborated with, including Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, and Tom Ford. Finally, she expressed her love and gratitude for her fiancé, Alex Rodriguez, his children, and her own children, who make her feel like the most beautiful person in the world simply by loving her.
Tom, I want to express my gratitude for your kind words. I have admired you for a very long time, not only for your exceptional talent and creativity, but also for your remarkable ability to reinvent yourself. Like everyone else in this room, I have followed your journey from Gucci and YSL to your own label, which has become a true powerhouse in the fashion industry. In fact, I know that my husband Alex couldn’t live without you, even though I like to think it’s me he can’t live without! (laughs)
Receiving an award for your fashion image is a tremendous honor, but I believe that we all realize the power of fashion from a very young age. When we put on our special dress and our loved ones tell us how beautiful we look, we understand that how we present ourselves is important. However, as my career expanded into movies and music, I came to understand that fashion is much more profound than just looking good. It can set trends in pop culture, help us transcend into characters, and give us the confidence we need to perform in front of large crowds. Fashion has the power to inspire us and the world around us with its powerful moments.
I feel incredibly humbled and grateful to be acknowledged by some of the most talented artists and designers in the world for simply pursuing my passion. Growing up in the Bronx, like Ralph Lauren, who I am proud to wear tonight, has been a significant influence on my fashion sense. As a young girl, I had limited clothing options, so I would often cut up my sweatshirts and jeans to create mini skirts inspired by my idols Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. The explosion of hip-hop culture in the ’80s also played a crucial role in shaping my style. I vividly remember the baggy jeans, shell-toe Adidas, Timberland boots, and excessive amounts of jewelry that were all the rage at the time. Some things never change, and my love for hoop earrings is undoubtedly one of them!
As soon as I switched my Timberland boots for Dr. Martens and adopted a downtown look, I realized that there was a whole new world out there. This awareness grew stronger as I entered the business and got exposed to the likes of Oribe and Kevyn Aucoin. These were the people who worked with those supermodels I used to admire in Vogue magazine on my train rides into the city. When it came time to choose hair and makeup artists for my first album cover shoot, I was thrilled to find myself in the same room as them. My love for Hollywood musicals from the 1940s and 1950s also shaped my style. When Andrea Lieberman became my stylist, she introduced me to designers from different eras such as Halston, Balenciaga, Courrèges, Valentino, and Alaïa. It was like being in a playground for me, and I couldn’t believe my luck. Although I started making music during the waif and supermodel era of the 90s, meeting these people changed my life. Being in the design rooms of Oscar de la Renta, Versace, Gucci, and other designers who allowed me to wear their creations was like a dream come true for someone with curves like me. It’s an understatement to say that I was like a kid in a candy store. As time passed, curves began to be embraced, and girls began to combine street style with couture. I’m grateful to all of you for this.
I want to pay tribute to Kevyn Aucoin and Oribe, two of the amazing artists who helped transform me from an ordinary girl to a magazine cover model. We worked together to create some of the most iconic looks, and I will always be thankful for their influence in my life. As I receive this award tonight, I dedicate it to them.
This year is particularly meaningful to me for personal reasons. I am gearing up to embark on a tour to celebrate a major milestone birthday (we won’t say which one!). Additionally, it marks the 20th anniversary of my album On the 6, and almost two decades since I wore that unforgettable green Versace dress. Ever since that moment, green has been my lucky color, and that dress has made appearances in 40 films, 11 albums, through a few divorces and births, and countless other memorable moments. I am excited for all that lies ahead, as this evening demonstrates there is much to anticipate.
As I wrap up, I would like to express my gratitude to some individuals who have been a significant part of my life for a long time. In this industry, it’s crucial to have people who comprehend you and don’t attempt to alter your identity. For me, in the fashion world, those two individuals are Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn, my stylists. Rob and Mariel, you both know me so well. I am aware that I can be a handful at times, but together, we have created numerous remarkable moments. Our partnership means everything to me, and I consider myself fortunate to have you both in my life. Thank you immensely for everything.
I want to give a special shoutout to Scott Barnes, my go-to makeup artist for years. He has an incredible eye for fashion and always completes the look like no one else can. To the rest of my glam squad, including Lorenzo and Chris Appleton, I am so grateful for your talent and hard work.
I also want to thank my family, including my children Emmy and Max, Alex, Tashi, and Ella. You all make me feel like a million bucks every single day. Your love and support mean everything to me.
Being recognized by the CFDA is such an incredible honor. I am humbled to be in the same room as so many talented designers who have added so much to both my personal and professional life. Thank you for collaborating with me, embracing me, and sharing your art, creations, style, and kindness with me. I will be forever grateful.