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At the Cipriani uptown on 42nd Street, Paula Zahn was hosting the National Design Awards. Honorary patron First Lady Michelle Obama skipped it but sent White House social secretary Desirée Rogers in her place.

“Our future depends on everyone having access to the arts,” Rogers said. “We are supporting creative and innovative ways to approach design.”

This story first appeared in the October 26, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Francisco Costa picked up the award for fashion design, chosen over finalists Rodarte and Thom Browne. “This is such an honor,” Costa said, as Calvin Klein campaign model Eva Mendes looked on. She was fresh from wrapping “The Other Guys” starring Will Ferrell, and luckily didn’t need to learn more lines for her speech.

“I’m just going to read what comes on the teleprompter,” she said.

Meanwhile, The New York Times Graphics Department picked up the award for communication design from executive editor Bill Keller, who said perhaps now the paper will be referred to as the “Technicolor Lady.” Also on hand were Chuck Close, Charlie Rose and Amanda Burden, Richard Meier, John Waters and Google’s Marissa Mayer.

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