Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row at the 2012 CFDA Awards.
“This is fashion’s night to celebrate each other. It’s a big party,” said CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg, donning a black and white gown of her own creation featuring handprints, as she walked the red carpet leading into this year's CFDA Awards at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.
Those lucky enough to snag an invite to the CFDA Awards, often dubbed the Oscars of fashion, found themselves surrounded by a mix of fashion insiders (Vogue’s Grace Coddington, original street-style photog Bill Cunningham and Nadja Swarovski), just about every designer that matters in American fashion at the moment, and an odd mix of celebrities (this year Ryan Seacrest’s main squeeze Julianne Hough, Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain and Mandy Moore all made appearances).
The party Von Furstenberg promised kicked off with Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” blasting on loudspeakers before the designer took to the stage telling the audience, “To promote and protect fashion is the CFDA motto.” Saturday Night Live’s Seth Meyers, who played host for the evening, seemed more intent to pick on the fashion industry.
"Fashion people like hating things more than they like liking things,” he told the crowd. Fashion’s biggest names weren’t off limits for Meyers including John Galliano and even Karl Lagerfeld. "This fall on NBC tune into Karl Lagerfeld's 'Are You Fatter than a Fifth Grader?" he quipped. Directed toward Von Furstenberg he said, "I've always wanted to do Diane.”
More than a few of the awards of the evening were pre-announced including the Media Award honoring bloggers Garance Doré and Scott Schuman. Filmmaker John Waters was on hand to accept awards on behalf of Rei Kawakubo and Johnny Depp (Fun fact: Waters knows Kawakubo because he used to model for Comme des Garçons). "I wear Rei Kawakubo to be fashionable in secret," Waters said. "We know how great her clothes look, but others think we're just poor."
Waters referred to Depp as "the star who made dirty hair fashionable."
Vogue Editor Anna Wintour presented the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award to Tommy Hilfiger, saying “Tommy is the most grounded designer working in fashion today.” Theory CEO Andrew Rosen picked up the Founders Awards and thanked his father, Garment District legend Carl Rosen. "It took three generations for my father to be an overnight success,” he said.
As for the awards that were decided via a vote by the CFDA selection committee, Tabitha Simmons, Phillip Lim and Joseph Altuzarra each won a Swarovski Award for emerging talent. Altuzarra said in his acceptance, "I dedicate my award to my boyfriend who has to deal with my mood swings."
Reed Krakoff walked away with Accessory Designer of the Year award, and Billy Reid won Menswear Designer of the Year. "I would like to thank my mother for not letting me pursue my dream of being a football coach," Reid said.
The most coveted award of the evening, Womenswear Designer of the Year, went to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row, who were up against fashion heavyweights Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler (both labels have several wins in this category under their belts). The former child stars cracked a smile to accept the award onstage and they thanked each other.
It was the show's stranger moments that will prove to be the most memorable. For the second half of the show, Meyers donned Marc Jacobs’ controversial see-through ensemble he wore to this year’s Costume Institute Gala. CFDA CEO Steven Kolb read an email from Johnny Depp to the audience. And there was even a "Glee"-inspired musical moment courtesy of the Princeton Footnotes.
Once the awards wrapped up the crowd headed into the lobby for some light food including blinis and lobster rolls (with more than a few fashionistas complaining it was slim pickings) before most headed out to the various afterparties. Tommy Hilfiger hosted a dinner at Monkey Bar. The Theory team headed to Jean Georges. And Swarovski sponsored a soiree at Top of the Standard where the likes of Alexander Wang, Rachel Zoe and Jessica Paré partied until the wee hours.