CFDA New Members Party

“We are Family”

Vera Wang and Kenneth Cole

The CFDA New Members party, an annual rite of fall, is a celebration which formally welcomes its roster of new names into the fold. It can also be a wonderful way to check out prime Manhattan real estate, not to mention Architectural Digest/gush worthy abodes. And if you’re like me, and love that as much as fashion, you’re in luck. Because, in addition to The Four Seasons Restaurant, the CFDA headquarters, and CFDA President Diane Von Furstenberg’s Meatpacking district atelier, quite often, the setting is a multimillion dollar apartment, loft, or town house, owned by one of its fabulously wealthy, highly established members. Which also makes it a great way to show the newbies (some of whom will undoubtedly become the next Donna, Diane, Oscar, Ralph, Calvin, Vera, Tory) what ‘rewards’ they might expect should their career paths mimic those of their fellow celebrated mentors.

Past venues have included Elie Tahari’s grand downtown loft, Vera Wang’s luxurious Park Avenue duplex, and Lisa Perry’s spectacular art filled penthouse (mod to the nth degree just like Lisa herself). And on Tuesday evening, the CFDA, whose membership is now up to 478, feted 30 new members at a cocktail party at Kenneth Cole’s fabulous coop (located at 1 Sutton Place South,  the same building as Lisa’s). The Rosario Candela designed Italian Renaissance building is widely considered to be one of the city’s grandest luxury apartment houses and unsurprisingly, it has another fashion connection; it was home to the late legendary Bill Blass, whose fabulously decorated and well-appointed apartment, had been photographed innumerable times.

Diane Von Furstenberg made her welcoming remarks to a packed house (that included Vera Wang, Stan Herman, Jeffrey Banks, Kay Unger, Adrienne Landau, Ruth Finley): “Kenneth Cole has the most beautiful view in New York. It’s a perfect setting for this celebration to welcome our 30 new members. We are quite strict, and not everyone makes the cut, so you should know that you are very special”. “We are all a family. We all compete but we love each other and we help each other.” “Being a member gives you many advantages.”

Then Kenneth Cole spoke, acknowledging that he has been a member of the CFDA for 18 years. “Congratulations: you are now members of an exclusive club.” He then introduced a group who would perform three different songs (it was the first time there had ever been entertainment at this event, and also, the first time there had been a morning orientation, during which time Stan Herman spoke). The talented trio was comprised of Grammy Award winner John Forte, British singer/songwriter Sophie Hiller, and Ben Taylor (son of the legendary James Taylor and Carly Simon). The family connection was especially fitting, given the whole “family” feeling that pervaded the event, and the evening.

I asked CFDA CEO Steven Kolb whose apartment might be on the future list, and he didn’t mention anyone specific (he asked me if I had any suggestions). I was also curious as to whether he considered this a more preferable setting, to any other. He observed, “We are family. And what could be more intimate than opening up your home?” When I offered that it was also a perfect way for young designers to get a taste of what life could be like if they really made it big, he agreed, adding, “When else can young designers actually see an original Joan Miro hanging on the wall of a designers’ apartment?”

Congratulations to the new members:

Linda Balti, AMOUR VERT
Raan Parton, APOLIS
Shea Parton, APOLIS
Arielle Shapiro, ARI DEIN
Ashley Pittman, ASHLEY PITTMAN
Doug Burkman, BURKMAN BROS
Carlos Campos, CARLOS CAMPOS
Clare Vivier, CLARE VIVIER
Danielle Sherman, EDUN
Eva Zuckerman, EVA FEHREN
Jonathan Simkhai, JONATHAN SIMKHAI
Jussara Lee, JUSSARA LEE
Barbara McReynolds, L.A. EYEWORKS
Gai Gherardi, L.A. EYEWORKS
Liya Kebede, LEMLEM
Kristy Caylor, MAIYET
Marc Alary, MARC ALARY
Paige Novick, PAIGE NOVICK
Ruthie Davis, RUTHIE DAVIS
Virginie Promeyrat, SELIMA DESIGN
Sharon Khazzam, SHARON KHAZZAM
Johnny Talbot, TALBOT RUNHOF
Tim Coppens, TIM COPPENS
Ulla Johnson, ULLA JOHNSON
Veronica Miele Beard, VERONICA BEARD
Veronica Swanson Beard, VERONICA BEARD
Cynthia Sakai, VITA FEDE
Whitney Pozgay, WHIT

FYI, while I am certainly familiar with of all the above names, I have never actually met many of the people behind the labels. And because I love impeccably tailored, classic blazers (and the idea of practicality mixed with luxury), I must admit to having a special affinity for the label Veronica Beard (, which focuses on “perfectly designed essentials”. Founded by two Veronicas (sisters in law actually) in 2010, it all started with their signature dickey jacket. The interchangeable dickies (there are now many, and they come in a range of fabrics and colors; new ones are added each season) quickly button in and out, and the jacket can just as easily be worn without one.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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