ESC: Elaine Welteroth, Aurora James, CFDA 2018

Raymond Hall/GC Images

The CFDA Awards was a big night for designer Aurora James.

By the end of the night, the Brother Vellies designer would find out if she would be the first African-American woman to receive the CFDA Emerging Talent Award, which has built a reputation for setting up new designers for success. Past recipients include Jason Wu, Alexander Wang, Brandon Maxwell and Zac Posen—all of which are household names with an undeniable red carpet presence. 

For the designer, who won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2015 (yes, she's been on their radar for awhile), the moment signifies another step for her sustainable clothing line and innovative business model that equitably shares African fashion design with the world. Her company takes a stance that African artistry isn't only for outdoor markets—it belongs in Saks, too.

"I figured that if I created Brother Vellies it would be a good vehicle to preserve traditional African artisanal techniques and also create jobs for people—that also tied back into the celebration of their own cultures," she explained to Vogue Italia.

How do you prepare for such a big night? Clearly, you invite someone who understands your journey and cares for you, a.k.a. your BFF.

Enter journalist and E! correspondent Elaine Welteroth, who took to Instagram to rave over Aurora and her work.

"Her efforts to celebrate the elegance, the glamour, and the dignity of indigenous culture doesn't go unnoticed," she said in a post. "We see you! And every single day your work is bringing a sense of pride and dignity not just to your customers, but the women whose lives you've changed for the better with @brothervellies."

The former Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief met Aurora prior to the event, so the culture-shifting duo could get ready, anticipate a groundbreaking moment and even sing Solange's "Don't Touch My Hair," while swinging their cowrie shell and pearl-embellished cornrows in the air.

Sounds like BFF goals, right? Check out a behind-the-scenes, realtime look at what went down prior to the CFDA Awards below!

ESC: Aurora James, CFDA 2018

It's time to get glam! Makeup artist Alana Wright, her assistant Shawnte Alexander and manicurist Andy Spencer meet the BFF duo at Dumbo House in Brooklyn to create soft looks that complement their by-the-sea attire.

ESC: Aurora James, CFDA 2018

Makeup. Check. Now, "You can't miss a good lighting opportunity," says Aurora.

ESC: Aurora James, CFDA 2018

With seashells, pearls and crystals in hand, she says, "Keeping Africa close to me always."

ESC: Aurora James, CFDA 2018

"Custom Brother Vellies accessories created for the night."

ESC: Aurora James, CFDA 2018

"Unique items have a hard time blending in."

ESC: Aurora James, CFDA 2018

With hair and makeup done, Elaine and Aurora put on their Danielle Frankel dresses.

"I love supporting fellow female emerging designers," she says. 

ESC: Aurora James, CFDA 2018

"Getting ready with a friend is twice as fun."

ESC: Aurora James, CFDA 2018

"Running fashionably late!"

ESC: Aurora James, CFDA 2018

"The best accessory of all is a true friend."

Although Aurora didn't win at the ceremony, Elaine was there to cheer her on: "Thank you for doing the work. Keep going. We need more of you!"

This is why they're the ultimate BFFs.

RELATED ARTICLE: How Olivia Culpo and Rebecca Minkoff Got Ready for CFDA Awards 2018

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