Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here

The CFDA Awards dinner cocktail party held in the New York Public Library’s Astor Hall (where one not only gets to see the guests walking into the Library, but see them blown up on screen as they make their way up the red carpet), was as animated, lively, crowded, and STEAMY as ever. It’s also another one of those fashion events where (as former Anne Klein designer and CFDA member, Louis Dell’ Olio noted) the women always tower over the men. Of course, it should be pointed out that Louis’s statuesque wife, Jacques, a former model who was always seen on the Anne Klein runways, towers over him. She stills looks great and is almost always dressed in something black and something from the rich archives of the fashion house (one of the ‘perks’ of being married to a fashion designer).

The evening was also testament to the fact that, “Anything Goes” in terms of fashion and when an invitation reads ‘Black Tie’, that is being interpreted in many different ways. There was long, short and everything in between; some guests looked as though they were dressed for cocktails, others looked appropriately decked out for the grandest of occasions, and well, quite frankly, others looked as thought they had come from work (and I’m not just referring to the women). For example, while Dennis Basso wore a traditional tuxedo and the always dapper Stan Herman (accompanied by Bernadette Peters who was presenting him his Lifetime Achievement Award), was in a formal white jacket and black bow tie, Joseph Abboud wore a chic but somewhat wrinkly double breasted white linen tuxedo jacket, no tie, which, given the steamy conditions, seemed to have been getting a bit more rumpled by the minute; Ralph Lauren opted for a black tuxedo jacket, black shirt, no tie, black jeans; Andre Leon Talley chose a short white coat, black shirt, black pants and white tie; and an unidentified gent was in a brown leather motorcycle jacket – apparently sweltering.

As for the women, there were tunics and pants (like Dana Buchman’s colorful combo); knee length dresses (a standout was Julie Macklowe’s red and white striped and pleated cotton Bottega Veneta that she “bought off the rack” after having seen it in a magazine); knee length black dresses (a la Cathy Horyn and Candy Pratts Price); knee length tulle concoctions (like Eliza Reed Bolen’s black and white Oscar de la Renta from the just shown resort collection); floral balloon hemmed skirts in taffeta (like Carol Smith’s Oscar de la Renta); frothy tulle mid-calf numbers (like Donna Karan’s black ballet length dress); and floor length entrance makers. In the last category, there were sleek columns AND more voluminous numbers, many in stand-out-red, which when paired with something black, seems to be an unmistakable trend.

For example, Janet Jackson wore a Michael Vollbracht for Bill Blass red plunge front gown with wide black belt from fall 2006, and Alva Chin (who was part of the Stephen Burrows entourage) wore the designer’s red and black jersey gown. By the way, Stephen (there to receive his Board of Directors’ Special Tribute) and friends made for one of the more interesting and colorful photo ops of the evening. Surrounded as he was, by pals Bethann Hardison (in striking flowy red, black, and yellow silk coat worn over a long black dress) and a towering Pat Cleveland clad in an eye popping turquoise and lime tiered gown with matching coat and wearing a black Josephine Baker type wig that had her resembling Chita Rivera (on stilts).

Other notable ‘trends’ of the evening were ‘wearable art’ (like Chloe Sevigny’s Proenza Shouler ‘scribble’ printed mini and Amy Fine Collins’ hand painted Chado Ralph Rucci; his and her matching outfits (Karl Lagerfeld and Lindsay Lohan arrived together in corresponding black and white); elegant trains (as seen on Anna Wintour’s ink blue floor length body skimming Olivier Theyskens for Rochas and on Joan Kaner’s Chado Ralph Rucci dramatic black gown).

FYI, when I asked the obviously relaxed and happy former senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus, who was in town to receive her Eleanor Lambert Award how ‘retirement’ was going and if she was feeling any pangs or had any desire to come back to work, she laughed and said no, she LOVES her new life in Florida, having recently had her grandchildren as houseguests. And as for her ‘replacement’ Ken Dowling? For his part, he couldn’t be happier where he is. He told me it’s a dream job, “the best job in the world” and he knew 15 years ago that this is what he wanted.

–Marilyn Kirschner

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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