NEW YORK—The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and the Accessories Council have partnered on the Elaine Gold Launch Pad, a four-year partnership underwritten by a $1.5 million donation to the CFDA Foundation, according to an announcement from the two organizations.

In honor of Elaine Gold, the vibrant accessories executive and innovator, who passed away in 2015, the Elaine Gold Launch Pad supports early-emerging and young design talent and aspirational entrepreneurs, and encourages creativity within technology, sustainability and innovation through six months of mentorship and milestone-based awards.

The program will empower early emerging designers, who are in business 0-3 years and have different needs from those of established talent. Coming from all fashion specializations, they will be tasked to develop creative entrepreneurial skills and innovative business acumen. The unique, virtual talent lab will launch in Spring 2017 and invite applications from early emerging talent. All categories of apparel, accessories, jewelry, textiles, knitwear and hybridized specializations are eligible.

Participation in the initiative will begin with competitive selection of up to 10 finalists to compete for up to five Elaine Gold Launch Pad Design Fellowships. Each young designer selected to participate will benefit from the CFDA and Accessories Council’s ecosystem of industry leaders and visionaries, and gain mentorship-based knowledge, experience and exposure.

Elaine Gold Design Fellows will be challenged to develop design-centric, innovative business model concepts with tangible rewards. Each designer will compete for a series of milestone based micro-awards, venture awards, and end program awards of up to $175,000 based on viability and originality.

“Elaine Gold is remembered as a designer and creative entrepreneur with a forward vision,” said Sara Kozlowski, director of education and professional development for the CFDA. “The CFDA and Accessories Council partnership celebrates her vibrant energy and lifetime commitment to education. As a virtual talent lab, Launch Pad will provide future talent with mentorship and awards.”

“The Accessories Council is proud to honor our longtime friend and board member Elaine Gold by partnering with the CFDA on the Elaine Gold Launch Pad,” said Karen Giberson, president of the Accessories Council. “The program will give a boost to young companies and designers, which is something that Elaine firmly believed was our obligation. We look forward to working with the team at the CFDA and working with our cross-over members to assure the program’s success.”

Visionary fashion and accessories icon Elaine Gold imprinted her industry as a creative entrepreneur, brand innovator, and young talent supporter. As a charter and board member of the Accessories Council, her passionate dedication as a creative visionary possessing deep knowledge within both design and business was honored by the Hall of Fame Award in 2007.

A native New Yorker, Gold’s career launched on Fifth Avenue, at Vera Scarves where she began as an assistant and transformed into a dynamic design professional during her 19 years with the brand. Gold later worked with CFDA president Emeritus Perry Ellis and Robinson & Golluber strengthening her expertise as a brand curator and specialist of scarves, and graphic prints.

Her journey continued at Totes, where she led the XIIX Karats division, collaborating with Kenzo, Ellen Tracy and other contemporary designers. In 1983, she bought XIIX Karats renaming it as Collection XIIX. Her creative entrepreneurship led to Collection XIIX’s success through brand partnerships with Anne Klein and Jones New York, as well as the Elaine Gold collection.