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Sarah Jessica Parker being interviewed and photographed on the red carpet. Click above image to enlarge. All photos by Randy Brooke

AND THE WINNERS ARE:

Okay, by now you already know: Narciso Rodriguez won for Women’s Wear Designer of the Year (15 or so young hostesses were outfitted with identical pale yellow dresses designed by Narciso decorated with Swarovski crystals just for the evening); Michael Kors for Men’s, and Marc Jacobs for Accessories. Brian Atwood won Swarovski’s Perry Ellis Award for Accessories and Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez were awarded Swarovski’s Perry Ellis Ready-to-Wear prize. The International Award went to Alexander McQueen; Lifetime Achievement to Anna Wintour; the Eleanor Lambert Award to Rose Marie Bravo, and the Eugenia Sheppard Award to André Leon Talley. 90 year old Oleg Cassini received a special tribute, and Nicole Kidman was honored with a Fashion Icon Award.


2003 CFDA Awards


It is a Family Affair...

Let’s just say, so much for inclusion! Anna Wintour may have told this year’s graduates of the Fashion Institute of Technology that “the fashion world is more inclusive than ever”, but you couldn’t tell it by the CFDA Awards ceremony held for the second time, at the Public Library, on 5th avenue and 42nd street.

Fashion’s biggest night is now a much more intimate affair than it had been in previous years, accommodating only around 500 as opposed to well over one thousand. And since celebrity and the media have become such a big part and parcel of the fashion business, it’s hardly a surprise that the CFDA goes out of its way to insure that it includes members of its high voltage extended Hollywood ‘family’: glamorous stars, celebrities, bold faced and A-list names. Quite frankly, from the look of things, the evening could be easily called, ‘7th on Sunset’.

But while Sarah Jessica Parker (the host of the affair who had numerous wardrobe changes), Renee Zellweger, Marisa Tomei, Claire Daines, Adrien Brody, and Lauren Bacall were amongst those who showed up, the biggest star - Nicole Kidman - who was slated to receive her Fashion Icon Award, could not make it as she was on the West Coast filming a movie.

Certainly, not everyone is a fan of the newly scaled down and exclusive event that has come to be referred to as the ‘Oscars of Fashion’. The Wall Street Journal’s always observant and astute Teri Agins is one who believes the CFDA is making a big mistake by trying to keep this evening so much more exclusive, especially given how global the world and the industry have become, not to mention the hard economic times befalling everyone. Ms. Agins told me she missed the electrically charged atmosphere that surrounded the night when it was held at Lincoln Center, a large venue that allowed for an audience of young cheering crowds who would camp outside just to catch a glimpse of star designers. And she thought it was just swell that a group of fortunate students could always be accommodated (a number of free rafter seats had traditionally been allotted).

But when I asked CFDA President Stan Herman if he thought they would ever go back to the old way sometime in the future, he indicated that because this event is so much more exclusive and hard to get into, it is now THE place to be, THE event to attend, so probably not any time soon. (Though he did indicate that they are trying to come up with an idea for an event of some sort that would accommodate more people). He believes it has become the ‘Party of the Year’ replacing the Met’s Costume Institute Ball which has become a crowd scene. Stan even told me that one unnamed party offered to pay $15,000 for tickets (or was that $50,000? Unfortunately, with the din of the cocktail crowd, it was hard to tell). The point being, money alone cannot buy a ticket.

Though there was no ‘red carpet’ per se, the stairs leading up the historic and grand library and the elegant Astor Hall, were perfect places to see and be seen. The crowd of some of fashion’s biggest and brightest names was testament to the notion that ‘anything goes’, and that the definition of ‘appropriate’ has become very liberal. There was short, long, and everything in between- and I’m not just referring to the women.

While many men wore traditional dark suits or tuxedos, many were creative in their wardrobe choices. Ralph Lauren arrived in black satin lapelled tuxedo jacket worn with an open collared black shirt, and signature silver buckled cowboy belt; Zac Posen lightened up his tux and bowtie with a lavender printed shirt; accessories designer Rafe came in a decidedly beach appropriate seersucker blazer and thong sandals; Simon Doonan wore a printed and ruffled shirt; and Zang Toi- accompanying his floral print clad model- was wearing his trademark short cotton plaid kilt (he does have nice, smooth legs by the way).

As for the women, though many opted for traditionally formal long gowns and skirts (In Style’s Cindy Weber Cleary wore coral Narciso Rodriguez with matching cardigan and suntan; Donna Karan selected her own black draped jersey with a youthful and newly shagged hairdo; Renee Zellweger looked fab as always in vintage Carolina Herrera with long off white gloves; Anna Wintour wore Oscar de la Renta’s floor length pale feathered skirt and sleeveless top; Vera Wang oozed cool elegance in a black and white long halter gown of her own design; Joan Kaner chose a spare and chic architectural gown by Ralph Rucci (who was not there), just as many opted for mid-calf, knee length, and thigh high with varying degrees of success. For example, Claire Danes’ very athletic build was incompatible with her overly designed Zac Posen mini.

Those who stood out in short were Karolina Kurkova in Azzedine Alaia; Connie Nielsen in Prada; Patricia Herrera in graceful ballet length full- skirted dress by mom Carolina; former Anne Klein designer Louis Dell’ Olio’s wife/muse/model Jacques, wearing a black and white beaded Anne Klein mini slip dress from the 80’s that looked as modern today as it did then. And it cannot go unnoticed that Anna Wintour’s daughter Bee, who is growing up before everyone’s eyes, accompanied her mom to the event, and looked especially chic in a knee length graphic black and white Narciso Rodriguez slip dress. One does not need a crystal ball to predict that fashion is in this young lady’s future.

- Marilyn Kirschner, editor-in-chief

The 'Goddess Exhibition' at the Met
DFR: Daily Fashion Report