“Contrary to popular belief, I was not at the one fifty years ago,” Michael Kors joked while entering last night’s CFDA Awards, which celebrated the organization’s fiftieth anniversary. For many there, the night was an evening of firsts—first time nominations, first time wins, and first-time attendees. ”I’ve never been to one of these before, so I’m just winging it,” explained snowboarder Shaun White, while nearby, his fellow first-timer, Candice Swanepoel enthused, “It’s more relaxed than I thought it would be.”
But perhaps no one had more reason for an inaugural celebration than Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, whose first Womenswear Designer of the Year nomination for their work on The Row turned out a very big win. ”It’s just nice to be nominated in a category with people we respect,” Mary-Kate told ELLE before the ceremony. And their date for the evening, Lauren Hutton, couldn’t have found a more-deserving duo. “Look how fast they’ve ascended! They make really great clothes, they’re really sensual, and they make them out of strange materials,” she said.
In a nearby corner, the Olsens’ fellow Womenswear nominee Marc Jacobs chatted with friends while holding a tight grip on a Louis Vuitton clutch that he’d taken along for the evening. Of his accessory choice, he told ELLE, ”I don’t like to put things in my pockets.” Bernadette Peters had also selected an unconventional accessory—choosing to match her white Donna Karan dress with a pair of vintage Karan shoes that included metal ankle straps: “They’re my handcuffs for the night, my ankle cuffs,” she explained.
For designers, one of the evening’s highlights is the opportunity to invite a guest. Swarovski Womenswear Award winner Joseph Altuzarra brought Kate Bosworth in a piece from his much-lauded Fall 2012 collection. “She’s a really great person, and she’s really beautiful, so it’s a fun combination for a date,” he explained of his choice. And Dakota Fanning could not have been more excited to accompany Womenswear nominees Proenza Schouler. “It’s always super exciting when you get to go anywhere with the designers you’re wearing,” she told ELLE.
For the select group of expat designers who can now call themselves CFDA members, the night took on extra meaning. ”It’s an incredible fraternity of people—it [never] fails to amaze me. Sometimes I still feel like, ‘What am I doing here, I was a kid from Nepal,’” said Prabal Gurung. And Olivier Theyskens felt similarly. “It feels right to be part of the family of American fashion,” he told ELLE.
Overall, however, the crowd was there to honor the CFDA’s fifty years. ”It’s incredible to see how American fashion industry has changed, it’s become so global, and tonight we’re here to celebrate,” Kors said. Zac Posen agreed: “It’s just been an incredible fifty years of American fashion’s self-invention.” And CFDA CEO Steven Kolb told ELLE, “It’s a nice crossroads because we’ve come together to celebrate working designers, but it’s also a time to reflect on the great designers that were such a big part of building the CFDA into the worldwide mega-organization that it is today.”
CFDA Awards 2012 Winners
Womenswear Designer of the Year: Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen of The Row
Menswear Designer of the Year: Billy Reid
Accessories Designer of the Year: Reed Krakoff
Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent in Womenswear: Joseph Altuzarra
Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent in Menswear: Phillip Lim
Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent in Accessories: Tabitha Simmons
Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award: Tommy Hilfiger
International Award: Rei Kawakubo
Founders Award, in honor of Eleanor Lambert: Andrew Rosen
Media Award, in honor of Eugenia Sheppard: Scott Schuman and Garance Doré
Fashion Icon Award: Johnny Depp