CFDA President Diane Von Furstenberg’s chic and sprawling new studio in the hipper than hip Meatpacking District (448 West 14th street to be exact) proved to be the perfect setting for a cocktail party to fete the 30 brand new inductees of the CFDA (a group that includes Tory Burch, Rachel Roy, Lela Rose, Phillip Lim, Richard Chai, Georgina Chapman, Justin Giunta, Kate and Laura Mulleavy).
Among those established designers, retailers, and editors who turned out at Monday night’s jam packed event were a tan and relaxed looking former President Stan Herman, who told me he is busy working on his upcoming memoir, “My Life in Fashion” (he emphasized it will NOT be a “tell all” but c’mon, he must be “telling something”), Glenda Bailey, Simon Doonan, Tommy Hilfiger, Steven Kolb, Cathy Hardwick, Peter Som, Reem Acra, Dennis Basso, Adrienne Landau, Margaret Hayes, John Anthony, Marylou Luther, Ken Downing, Yeohlee, Howard Socol, Fern Mallis, Mary McFadden, Joan Vass.
Speaking of whom…I always enjoy talking with Joan because she never minces words and always says what’s on her mind. The legendary knitwear designer surveyed the room and asked if I happened to see Cathy Horyn. I said I hadn’t (I also did not see Vera Wang, Anna Wintour, Andre Leon Talley although they might have come later) at which point she said, “Does Cathy ever go anywhere?” She then bemused, “Cathy emails me all the time”. “I design the most wonderful clothes and nobody knows that”. She also told me that she will be “giving away” her dear and longtime friend Mary McFadden when she walks down the aisle for the 12th time (sometime in the future). FYI, Mary was accompanied by her “90 year old fiancé” (in Joan’s words), who looked very crisp and summery in his classic blue seersucker suit. .
By the way, I couldn’t help but notice that in terms of dress, the men in general showed more variety and creativity in their fashion statements. While women primarily stuck with the dress in one form or another, the men were a bit more daring (one was bedecked in a massive strands of pearls and Subversive Jewelry’s designer and new inductee Justin Giunta accessorized with vintage coin bracelets). While some looked as though they came straight from the beach in jeans and polos, others took more care and chose just the right straw fedora and short sleeved cabana shirt. On the other end of the spectrum, one dapper dude opted for a very “of the moment” navy crested Ralph Lauren Wimbledon blazer piped in ivory, worn over a preppy blue shirt and crisp white pants. Tennis Anyone? (For the record, Ralph was not present). And Neiman’s Ken Downing looked even skinnier and taller in his very proper and very skinny black suit (worn with shirt and tie) which was fitted to the ‘nth’ degree.
The party was called for 7pm to 9pm and at approximately 7:30pm, the evening’s host, Diane Von Furstenberg, looking appropriately cool and comfy in her airy white cotton dress, kicked off her shoes, perched herself on one of her many upholstered chaises (well, it is her place after all), took the microphone and made an informal, impromptu, and sometimes humorous welcoming speech. She thanked everyone for being there, spoke about the wonderful ‘fraternity’ of designers that defines the CFDA, and proudly observed that this year marked the largest number of applications for membership in the 45 year history of the company, taking the time to name each of the new 30.
She went on to speak about the wonderful opportunities and resources they have available to them as members and since for her, it’s all about giving and receiving, she allowed that those designers who are most successful should be “giving” while those who are struggling should be “receiving”. She also spoke of the “wonderful things we can do together” (such as “buying wholesale”). When she had trouble with some of the names of retailers who were present, without hesitation, she quickly admitted that she is not good at introductions (even with regards to those she knows very well) To further prove her point, she recounted how years ago, she introduced her daughter to the then First Lady Hilary Clinton,, referring to her mistakenly as “Mrs. Carter” Everyone laughed.