That the venue for the 2009 CFDA Awards, held last evening, was changed from the New York Public Library where they had been staged for many years (and just steps from where the Bryant Park Tents had been erected for many a season), to Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, could be seen as symbolic, a ‘teaser’ of sorts. Because, beginning in February 2010, IMG New York Fashion Week, will find a new home in Lincoln Center. And from my point of view, it’s not only a perfect fit, but hopefully, it will serve as a harbinger of positive things to come. Not only is the location still convenient (although admittedly not as convenient as 42nd Street), but in the same way that the Tents were a perfect metaphor to symbolize the ‘Big Top’ circus like atmosphere surrounding fashion week, Lincoln Center, the epicenter of the performing arts in New York City, speaks to the drama and theatre (and hopefully, the productive creativity) that is, or rather, should be, inherent in fashion. In addition, the space is also much more open, light, and airy with its high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, and city views, and not as claustrophobic as the New York Public Library, which always seemed overly crowded, and over hot.
Boy, speaking of theatrical and being right on cue, the skies opened up to a first class downpour just minutes before the festivities were to begin. But moments before the first guests arrived, (at 6:30 to be exact) the rain ended, and the sun actually came out. And thank goodness, because otherwise, the models, (wearing a selection of designs from this year’s nominees, and positioned on platformed bleachers right outside the entrance to Alice Tully Hall), would have gotten completely soaked. By the way, it was amusing to hear the comments from puzzled onlookers, as they took in the ‘view’ and tried to guess what was going on.
In addition to the new, slightly more artsy and decidedly more uptown locale…there were other things that were just a little bit different for the CFDA Awards this time around. The ‘Pre Show moment’, a time when the guests left the red carpet to enter the theatre for the awards show, was really edited this year, allowing members of the press only one hour to mingle with guests over a glass of Champagne. In addition, reporters were warned they could not cover both the red carpet and the cocktail hour as they “happen simultaneously”. At precisely 7:30, there was an announcement (well, sort of a musical ‘gong’) to formally announce that the show was to begin. It was also the time when many if not most of the evening’s high profile guests arrived.
Unsurprisingly, while the invitation called for Black Tie, how that is interpreted these days, especially within fashion circles, where people make their own rules, is open for interpretation. Certainly, floor length gowns were completely overshadowed by short dresses – and I mean dangerously SHORT, though there was a smattering of tuxedos and even a few jumpsuits. One standout was EBay’s Constance White, who looked fantastic in a black Ralph Lauren tuxedo jumpsuit, accessorized with Charles Nolan’s oversized pearls. Speaking of which, this year, it seemed it was all about statement making accessories (no surprise there since the category of accessories could not be ‘hotter’ at the moment). Statement making necklaces, jeweled bibs, and golf ball sized pearls were the order of the evening. And when it wasn’t a fabulous accessory, it was a frock that was jeweled and embellished, so that there was no need to add accessories, other than a bag and a pair of great shoes. Actually, come to think of it, with short dresses being the order of the day (or evening, I should say), my vote for the most important accessory would have to be great pair of gams!
AND the winner is…
Board of Director’s Special Tribute
First Lady Michelle Obama
Womenswear Designer of the Year
Rodarte’s Laura and Kate Mulleavy
Menswear Designer of the Year (tie)
Calvin Klein’s Italo Zucchelli
Band of Outsiders’ Scott Sternberg
Accessory Designer of the Year
Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez
Swarovski Award for Womenswear
Swarovski Award for Menswear
Swarovski Award for Accessory Design
Justin Giunta for Subversive Jewelry
Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton
Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award
Eugenia Sheppard Award
Women’s Wear Daily editor-in-chief Ed Nardoza
Eleanor Lambert Award
GQ’s Jim Moore