c.2013 New York Times News Service
c.2013 New York Times News Service
NEW YORK — Inside the fishbowl of a lobby at Alice Tully Hall, where walls of glass offered a floor-to-ceiling view of guests arriving for the Council of Fashion Designers of America awards on Monday evening, swam two women in almost scandalously revealing black gowns.
“I had to have a tan to wear this,” said Linda Fargo of Bergdorf Goodman, in a Michael Kors number with cutouts in the front, the back and the sides that said peek-a-woo-hoo.
“And a smile,” she said.
Next to her was Michelle Harper, the professional spectacle, in a vintage Yves Saint Laurent skirt connected to a frilly top that wrapped around her pale torso like a scarf. A small bird hat with a single erect feather was perched on her head.
“You have to be adventurous,” Harper said, speaking not a little derisively of those in the crowd in their off-the-rack resort dresses. Funnily enough, most people don’t really dress up for the fashion awards any more.
“What is the fun?” Harper said. “That’s not fashion. That’s just being a mannequin.”
Fargo was more diplomatic. “I would call it an opportunity,” she said.
Now that the fashion council has mastered the concept of brevity (the ceremony was swift, and the introductory videos were amusing enough), the next goal should be to make the event relevant to fashion, or at least less like a commercial.
While the event was book-ended by classy tributes to Oscar de la Renta and Vera Wang, the evening was not entirely memorable, beyond the scene-stealing introduction of de la Renta by Hillary Rodham Clinton. She recalled the oh-my-God moment, when she met him in 1993 while wearing one of his dresses, of being “examined by Oscar de la Renta.”
“I was then, as I am now, such a fashion icon,” Clinton deadpanned. She even pitched a reality show: “Project Pantsuit.”
If only fashion people were as self-aware. Andy Cohen, the Bravo talk show host, had barely completed one sentence (“I have to admit being a little intimidated by this audience,” he said) before Erin Wasson, sitting with Alexander Wang in the front row, yelled, “Duh!”
Cohen did not bomb as the awards host, even with farcical suggestions for future designer collaborations like Jason Wu for Honey Boo Boo. He was barely onstage.
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Funnier were the introductory videos for each category, like one for the emerging-talent awards that depicted the model Reid Prebenda trying to pick up Coco Rocha at a party. Whenever one of them said something stupid, the scene started over, which happened like 18 times. (Asked later if he ever got anywhere with Rocha, Prebenda said, “Her husband was 10 feet away the entire time, so no.”)
Still, there were some of the usual forced moments of synergy up there, as when Nadja Swarovski, the crystal mogul whose company has sponsored those awards for the last 12 years, plugged her company’s new entertainment division and the stars of its first film, “Romeo and Juliet,” who were also presenting the awards. Maybe it was time for a little return on her investment.
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The big winners this year, anyway, were Phillip Lim for accessories design, Thom Browne for men’s wear and the Proenza Schouler designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez for women’s wear, their third time getting the top prize in five years. So there was some grousing about the same old (and same new) people winning year after year.
But once Ralph Lauren handed Wang a lifetime achievement trophy, the designers were out of Lincoln Center so fast, you would have thought Cohen was holding auditions for “Project Pantsuit.”
“I’m going to the Vera Wang party now,” said Sofia Vergara on her way out the door. “I’m ve-r-r-r-y hung-r-r-r-y!” (She was delighted, by the way, to see de la Renta in person because, she said, “I love to hear somebody Latin with an accent, too, and he’s been here forever.”)
The rest of the night was a blur, partly because there were so many competing after-parties spread uptown and downtown, and not just Henry Kissinger’s birthday celebration, where Diane von Furstenberg said she was heading to catch up with Clinton and de la Renta. There was also Riccardo Tisci’s Givenchy party at Westway, and Swarovski’s soiree at the Standard, which didn’t really get going until after midnight, and Wang’s celebratory supper at the Four Seasons restaurant.
At the latter, Vergara was making her way along a buffet set up in the Pool Room, where Tommy Hilfiger and Dee Ocleppo held court on one side of the pool and Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, in a white dress and a snazzy high ponytail, made their way around the other. And Cohen, wearing his second tux of the evening (actually, an ivory suit from Ovadia & Sons) popped up out of nowhere.
“Were you just talking about me?” he asked one group of guests, eliciting what had to be the biggest laugh of the night.
“You were! You were talking about me!”
Of course we were. Duh!