Robert Verdi on Ecco Domani Judges: “They're the Gatekeepers of Fashion”

At last night's anniversary party for the Ecco Domani awards, which celebrate emerging fashion talents, Prabal Gurung celebrated 2011 winner Bibhu Mohapatra's love of Bollywood, Mandy Coon dished on her fashion week essentials, and host Robert Verdi admitted he was mostly eyeing Mohapatra's dresses and the Lake & Stars lingerie.

"This is the most prestigious award you want to win in fashion," Verdi told us. "In 10 years, they've really picked the most important, prolific, emerging American fashion designers. The group that's judging them ... they're the great gatekeepers of fashion."

As for whom among the winners Verdi had his eyes on, the style expert professed his love for The Lake & Stars as well as Bibhu Mohapatra, mostly because "it's award season" (Mohapatra's gowns on display were quite stunning).

Mohapatra seemed to be one of the biggest stars of the night, enjoying one of the best introductions as well, delivered by his CFDA Incubator neighbor, Prabal Gurung. "Not only do I think he is talented and worthy of this design, I do also think he's one of the nicest persons you can find in this industry ... And on a very, very presonal note, his love and my love for Bollywood has cemented our friendship."

Later, we caught up with fellow award-winner Mandy Coon, who admitted that the award had allowed her to step up to a bigger platform in moving her show to Lincoln Center. As the designer preps her "dark and chic" fall collection for the runway, the biggest essential keeping her going is apparently vegan cupcakes. "Babycakes!" she said excitedly.

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