What’s Black & White and Red All Over?

The driving rain did not put a damper on Monday night’s CFDA Awards, held at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. And it certainly did not dampen the spirits of the attendees or the well deserving winners for that matter (congratulations to all I might add!). In fact, in a strange way, it created a wonderfully moody ambience, and somehow, served to enhance it all. And to say the organizers were prepared is an understatement.

Upon arrival, each and every guest was met with at least one umbrella – carrying, formally-clad escort to usher him or her inside (even though I came prepared with a raincoat and umbrella, I had not one, but three escorts, and my umbrella was whisked away prior to going indoors). Needless to say, the Red Carpet, which would normally take place outside, was moved indoors, along with the hour and a half long cocktail reception prior to the 8 pm award ceremony. The sprawling, open space, where cocktails and appetizers (including plates of pasta and salad), were served, had floor to ceiling windows, which provided a good look at the rain, and the arrivals.

Lisa Perry
(Photo Marilyn Kirschner)

The large white banquettes, accessorized with oversized pillows in graphic red/white, black/white stripes, could not have been a more perfect backdrop for the fashion on parade, which, while literally all over the place, seemed heavily tilted to a palette of black, white, and red.  Not only were many men in traditional black tie (such as award winner Tom Ford, who always looks impeccable in formal attire), but a good many women wore different combinations of black and white: color blocks, prints, and bold patterns such as stripes and dots (Lisa Perry arrived in a very Mod inspired black long dress covered in white oversized circles). And of course, red (the simpler the better) never fails to stand out in a crowd (well illustrated by Julia Nobis in Jason Wu and Natasha Poly in Michael Kors).

Pharrell Williams and Helen Lasichanh
(Photo: Vogue.com)

This is one event where guests (the list includes many of the world’s most notable names in fashion) dress according to mood and whim, as opposed to following a mandated dress code, and admittedly, with varying degrees of success (I guess you could refer to it as, “The good, the bad, and the irreverent”). But that is precisely the point, and exactly what you would expect from creative fashion insiders who make their living from fashion and design. It’s not so much a matter of ‘dressing up’ in a traditional way, as it is about breaking rules and dressing intuitively and instinctively; as exemplified by Fashion Icon honoree Pharrell Williams and his wife Helen Lasichanh in their well-worn leather biker jackets. He paired his with t shirt, shirt, distressed jeans and olive green cap, and she wore a patchwork skirt and heavy lace up boots.

Shayne Oliver and Binx Walton wearing his design
(Photo: Vogue.com)

And while it was all about individuality, that is not to say there were no trends.  As one would expect, there were the gorgeously otherworldly models, reminding us of how spectacular they are by wearing designs that none of us mere mortals could possibly or even remotely pull off (Binx Walton was dressed in Swarovski Award winning Shayne Oliver’s daring white gown with strategically placed cut outs, and Hanne Gaby Odiele, who arrived with Esteban Cortazar, chose the designer’s long black sheer number under which she wore black shorts).

Kim Kardashian West in Proenza Schouler
(Photo: Vogue.com)

And yes, “Sheer madness” could easily describe the evening (figuratively and literally). The notion of wearing clothes that leave little to the imagination is nothing new, especially for newly pregnant Kim Kardashian, who opted for Proenza Schouler’s fantastical, embellished number from fall 2015.

Steven Kolb, Bee Shaffer, Anna Wintour

Floral patterns continue to be popular, as exemplified by duo Bee Shaffer and mom Anna Wintour, who wore long floral patterned dress and pale coat over her shoulders. (She skipped Roger Federer’s tennis match in Paris in order to attend the awards and I couldn’t help but wonder if, or when, Caitlyn Jenner might appear on the cover of Vogue).

Misha Nonoo and Bella Hadid

More than a few women opted for sleek jumpsuits, and they looked effortless, modern, and cool. Vera Wang wore a black halter jumpsuit with white beaded tuxedo stripes down the side of the legs. Jenna Lyons selected a tailored indigo J. Crew jumpsuit that had the effect of a jacket and pant. Bella Hadid wore Misha Nonoo’s white strapless jumpsuit, and Misha wore a black halter version of her own design (they made a statement arriving together). Betsy Johnson’s striped jersey jumpsuit paired with high tops, enabled her to do her signature splits and cartwheels several times during the course of the evening. Gigi Hadid literally glistened in Michael Kors’s gold beaded jumpsuit. Among those who wore something feathered was Juliette Lewis, in Christian Siriano, and among those who embraced fringe were Rachel Zoe, Georgina Chapman and Norma Kamali.

Hamish Bowles in Dries Van Noten
(Photo: Vogue.com)

As for the men, as I previously mentioned, a good majority of them were in formal black tie, but others apparently wanted to stand out, rather than blend in. Thom Browne was in his signature suit with Bermuda shorts; Di Mondo paired his silver and black tuxedo jacket with pale pink trousers; CFDA Executive Director Steven Kolb wore a patterned dinner jacket in silver and black (he paired it with a white shirt and white bow tie, and black pants); Hamish Bowles looked like nobody else in his floral printed Dries Van Noten suit; Ken Downing channeled “rocker chic” in his fitted bronze dinner jacket, white shirt, long narrow fringed scarf, and skinny black leather pants; and vintage maven Cameron Silver (in white and black Chanel espadrilles) went for a look that could best be described as casual chic.

Josh Ostrovsky
(Photo: Vogue.com)

But one man, Josh Ostrovsky, stood out by virtue of the fact that his look was unapologetically casual ‘un-chic’. Quite frankly, when I first saw the Instagram sensation /actor /writer /comedian /entrepreneur, I thought he had wandered inside by mistake. Sipping a bottle of his White Girl Rose with a straw, he was wearing a blue and white seersucker jacket and matching Bermudas, a white tank, a gold “Chai” around his neck, embroidered slippers, and carrying a Louis Vuitton bag. His hair was in a signature braid, piled high on top of his head. He looked as though he should have been on the Jitney to the Hamptons. I had never met him, and when I introduced myself, he told me he went by the name “Fat Jew”. Without skipping a beat, I told him I guess I could be called “Skinny Jew”. He quickly looked over my narrow frame and agreed I could pull it off!

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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