An Icon They Clicked On

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

c.2014 New York Times News Service

NEW YORK — On Monday night, the fashion world gathered to congratulate itself.

“You look fantastic,” Tom Ford said to the W editor Stefano Tonchi, upon entering Alice Tully Hall at cocktail hour.

“You look fantastic,” Tonchi replied.

“ We look fantastic,” Ford said, as the two doubled over in laughter.

Ford was on hand to accept a lifetime achievement award at the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s annual fashion awards. It was a recognition he found a bit odd because he believes his career is far from over. (“Please have me back in another 25 years,” he said.)

“It’s an important award and event for me because it’s my peers,” Ford said, before tugging and pulling at a reporter’s blazer and slacks, trying to fix the unfixable. (“You can’t carry things like this,” he said, patting at a blazer pocket, overstuffed with a tape recorder, charger and batteries. “Carry a handbag.”)

The lobby at Lincoln Center was packed with hundreds of designers, models and celebrities. Joseph Altuzarra was standing at a bar, in quiet meditative bliss, even though he was nominated for women’s wear designer of the year, against heavyweights like Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang.

“This event’s always been very good to me,” he said, referring to a win in 2012 for best emerging designer. (He would go on to win this night, too.)

After cocktails, attendees made their way inside the theater (which had spotty cell service, drawing the wrath of Instagrammers), where John Waters, the host, opened the show with lots of bons mots.

“Every night when I was a teenager I’d leave in some ludicrous outfit, and my dad would shout, ‘It’s not Halloween, you know,'” said Waters, dressed in white tie (his first of three outfits). “Well, as all fashion sophisticates know, every night is Halloween.”

In that spirit, Rihanna, who received the fashion icon award, was dressed in a sparkly see-through dress by Adam Selman, embellished with thousands of crystals that left little to the imagination. Anna Wintour introduced her and said that the “point is to be audacious, even jaw-dropping, or button-pushing — and, yes, she likes to push buttons.”

When Rihanna came to accept her award, Wintour greeted her with a faire la bise, suggesting that a preceding spoof video depicting the two as texting buddies was not too much of an exaggeration.

Rihanna discussed the role that fashion played in her life, going back to her upbringing in Barbados.

“I grew up in a really small island and I didn’t have a lot of access to fashion but as far as I can remember, fashion has always been like a defense mechanism,” she said. “Even as a child I’d remember thinking she could beat me but she could not beat my outfit.”

The crowd cheered hard.

“Fashion is just a world of thrills,” she continued. “It’s exciting. There are no rules.”

“Well, I mean, she has tons of rules,” Rihanna added, gesturing over to Wintour.

The awards ceremony became emotional at times. There were several standing ovations, including for Ford; the fashion-world fixer Ruth Finley; the Allure creative director Paul Cavaco; and the activist Bethann Hardison, who has campaigned to increase diversity on the runway and in fashion magazines.

“I’ve done more of these awards than anyone in the world and it’s the first time I’ve seen four standing ovations,” said Stan Herman, the former CFDA president, standing with his date, Bernadette Peters.

A somber Michael Kors paid homage to three members of the fashion industry who died in the past year, Art Ortenberg, L’Wren Scott and Annabel Tollman. And Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who won for best accessories, dedicated their award to Jay Ott, the designer who went missing and died earlier this year.

“This was definitely more emotional,” Donna Karan said.

After the awards ceremony, attendees gathered in the sidewalk plaza for Champagne and small trays of food that mostly went untouched. Chris Kattan, the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member, was dressed as his old character, Mango, and posed for a photo with Wintour.

“I’m his accessory tonight,” Kattan said, pointing to Alexander Wang, who resurrected Mango for a new ad campaign.

And there was a most unexpected guest: the media-shy New York Knicks and Rangers owner James L. Dolan, who huddled with Harvey Weinstein and his wife, designer Georgina Chapman. And how in the world did Dolan wind up at — of all things — a fashion event?

“I didn’t go,” he said. “I just showed up with Harvey. To collect his wife.”

He groaned a bit, perhaps realizing that more questions were coming. When he was asked about his Stanley Cup finals-bound Rangers, that’s when he finally acted like himself.

“I can’t give you an interview now. Harvey!”

By 11 p.m., the plaza began to clear as attendees made their way to Ladurée in SoHo for an after-party hosted by Dior for Raf Simons, who won the international designer award.


“This is the actors’ corner,” said Keri Russell, holding a bottle of beer and chatting with James Marsden, in an outside garden. “We found each other.”

“We are looking out for one another,” Marsden said.

“We are talking biz,” she replied. “Oh, my God, what is that?” A waiter holding a tray of macarons and sweets walked by.

Zachary Quinto was in another corner, and said he was quietly celebrating his 37th birthday and enjoying the laid-back scene.

“When I got here I was like, ‘Did we get we here really early?'” he said. “There’s space! Which is unusual for Manhattan.”


Simons — who, in keeping with the theme of the night, cried during his speech, when he thanked his studio director, Pieter Mulier — said he dreaded speaking at these things.

“I really don’t like to be onstage,” he said, recalling a speech he gave three years ago when he “discovered my tie had been hanging in lamb sauce” before he got up.

But the speech was so nice.

“Everybody keeps saying that,” he said. “'It was so sweet, it was so nice.’ I don’t want it to be like that. I just want to say my thing and get to the drinks.”