Hoping to curtail the notoriously lengthy event of years past with a fresher, faster-paced format, the Council of Fashion Designers of America held its 26th annual award gala last night in Midtown, sans cocktail hour. The event began with a shortened ceremonial presentation at the New York Public Library, followed by dinner at the Bryant Park Grill next door. The crowd of celebrities—both Hollywood stars and the famous designers who dress them—left the party cooing about sponsor Swarovski's chandeliers, the potent floral centerpieces, and a touching opening speech by CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg on the passing of Yves St. Laurent.
As the fashion fete came to a close at the park, we grilled guests like actress Jill Hennessy, IMG Fashion’s Fern Mallis, and nominated designer Marc Jacobs about this year’s departure from tradition and what they most enjoyed. Here’s what they had to say.
“The films that introduced the designers were fun, not too too long, and I was very happy because I was with my good friend Victoria [Beckham] and my partner Robert [Duffy]. We had a good time in there. Wherever they have the event I’ll go. They were lucky the weather was nice. It’s hot and I’m in a suit, but you’ve got to wear black tie to a black-tie event.”
“On the tables, I thought the peonies, hyacinths, and sweet peas smelled amazing. And the jasmine and ivy on the trellises was really lovely, and just the right garden quality.”
—Jenny Lambert, senior vice president and general merchandise manager, Bergdorf Goodman
“It was amazing how heartfelt Diane’s opening for the evening was when she talked about [Yves St. Laurent] and his contribution to fashion and design. It was a major moment. The floral theme and enchanting garden environment made for one of the most memorable CFDA events. It would be hard not to be impressed with the event decor. I loved that the spring florals and the signature Bryant Park sycamore trees were an integral part of the CFDA decor.”
—Caroline Dougherty, vice president of public relations and special events, Saks Fifth Avenue
“It’s so nice to be a part of a world that I’ve always admired. I had such a phenomenal time. The best part was being able to sit and speak Italian with people whom I highly regard, and discuss food, which happened to be delicious tonight.”
“I liked the event; I thought Karen Patterson did a marvelous job with the whole production. Fran [Lebowitz] is a great friend of mine, and I thought her M.C.'ing did it justice … about when you’re too cool for school, you don’t wear fashion.”
“Well, I do love Bryant Park. But it was a tough room to work, being in two separate places, and one side not being air-conditioned. I think it’s wonderful celebrating all this in Bryant Park. It was a lovely night. Diane did a very beautiful speech, and she was wearing, during the award show, a 30-year-old tuxedo of Yves St. Laurent.”
—Fern Mallis, senior vice president, IMG Fashion
“I loved watching the people, watching the clothes. The food was superb, especially the dessert: a chocolate cup with the berries inside and the cream.”
—Roger Farah, president, chief operating officer, and director, Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation
“The entranceway was bejeweled with crystal branches, and Swarovski had another crystal pillar in the cocktail area, as well. There was no problem getting guests in and out of the venue, and it was all so close to where they held the actual presentation.”
—Billy Farrell, photographer, Patrick McMullan