(Left to right) Winner Billy Reid, Anna Wintour, Karl Lagerfeld, finalist Prabal Gurung, Diane von Furstenberg and finalist Eddie Borgo. Photo: Gary Gershoff, WireImage

Billy Reid was rendered speechless.

Last night in New York, the seasoned fashion designer scored a surprise upset when he won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, one of the industry's most prestigious awards.

"I am happy just to be a part of this," the native Southerner said from the stage, looking genuinely stunned. "I'm at a loss for words -- this is a long way from Louisiana."

He may be a little bit country, but Reid is no stranger to industry dynamics. His eponymous business launched in 1998, received the CFDA's Perry Ellis Award in 2001 and shuttered post-9/11. He has now worked his way back to the top.

Last night, he edged out two darlings of the media and celebrity worlds, Eddie Borgo and Prabal Gurung, who were each named runners-up at the awards dinner, held Monday at Skyline Studios.

"It means everything to our business really," Reid told StyleList. "We're at that point where we need the help and boost. Hopefully, this will give it to us."

Besides being incredibly prestigious and garnering Reid attention from Vogue editors and others, the award carries a $300,000 cash prize for the winner and $100,000 for each runner-up.

"I've never seen him this excited the entire time I've known him," Mary-Louise Parker told StyleList after her friend's win. "I thought he was going to cough up a lung, but I had a feeling this was going to happen."

Actress Carey Mulligan and Karl Lagerfeld announced the winners, after the designer gave the keynote address. He told the group of designers, industry executives and celebrities about his start.

Lagerfeld submitted six sketches to a design contest, and along with Yves Saint Laurent was chosen as a winner. "His were of a dress, and mine were of a coat. His was made by Givenchy and didn't work out," he said to a laugh, and then professed to be the first designer who freelanced for others (Fendi, Chanel, etc). "It's good to struggle, but I'm not very good at it. I like doing the job better than looking for a job. I'm happy I can do this for so many years and I wish you could all do it like me for 100 years."

Also at the party were the other finalists: Joseph Altuzarra, Christian Cota, Gregory Parkinson, Loden Dager's Oliver Helden and Paul Marlow Moss Lipow, Pamela Love and Robert Geller. Established designers in attendance included Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Bastian, Chris Benz, Tory Burch, Georgina Chapman, Francisco Costa, Carolina Herrera, Michael Kors, Reed Krakoff, Jenna Lyons, Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, David Neville, Zac Posen, Rachel Roy, Behnaz Sarafpour, Peter Som and Jason Wu.

In addition to the cash prize, offered through a partnership with J. Crew and underwritten by L'Oréal Paris, Nordstrom, Theory, American Express, Barneys New York, Coach, Juicy Couture, Appleman Foundation, Liz Claiborne, Lord & Taylor and Vogue, Reid will receive a reclining-swan sculpture by artist Rachel Feinstein, and the runners-up will receive egg sculptures. The gala dinner was underwritten by eBay.