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The CFDA Awards may have honored the imaginations and technical prowess of the winners on Monday night at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, but it was fashion’s more absurd aspects that got the most laughs as host Seth Meyers ribbed the crowd, taking on everything from Valentino’s skin color to Topshop knockoffs.

“As a comedian, this gig is a dream come true, because you know what they say about the world of high fashion — just a bunch of easygoing, laid-back people who love to laugh at themselves,” Meyers said before launching one of the night’s more risque zings. “You could even say that fashion and comedy go together like bar mitzvahs and Galliano.”

This story first appeared in the June 6, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

His take on the Comme des Garçons lace shirtdress that Marc Jacobs wore to the Costume Institute benefit got the loudest laughs of the night.

“That’s a long way to go to prove you’re wearing a clean pair of underwear,” Meyers said.

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Midway through the show, he took the joke to its logical conclusion as he strode onstage wearing the exact outfit. “Obviously I’ve had 11 more drinks since the last time I was here,” Meyers told the audience.

“More fun when I put it on than I thought it would be,” he told WWD after the awards ceremony.

“It really was comfortable,” said the comedian, who by then had changed into a neatly cut Patrik Ervell suit. “It was more comfortable than a tuxedo. I can understand why he did it.”

Meyers’ shtick — delivered at shout volume most of the night (Seth, there was a microphone) — got some competition from John Waters, who wittily and incisively accepted awards on behalf of Johnny Depp and Rei Kawakubo.

“She couldn’t be here tonight because, I imagine, she is locked in a self-imposed deconstructed cell, like the St. Teresa of fashion, massacring hemlines for next season’s nondimensional outfits that will be mocked, brilliantly reviewed and worn by the brave,” Waters said. “In fact, some of the more fashion-impaired public actually feels sorry for us. Rei Kawakubo gives us undercover glamour. We know how great her clothes look, but others just think we’re poor.”

He mocked the “complicated” and “sometimes hilarious” instruction labels that come with the clothes. “Do not dry-clean, do not wash… these pants — 100 percent polyester, wrinkled, unable to be pressed, so comfortable, so unnatural and so expensive,” Waters said. The director went backstage, quickly changed, and then returned to accept on behalf of Depp, reading from a note the actor had sent him.

“‘You’re the only person to have me parading down the streets in pearls, drinking in the gutter with Ms. Patricia Hearst and hiding out in gay bars. I’d do it all over again, with pleasure,’” Waters read before adding, “If those aren’t words of a style icon, I don’t know what is.”

But given the night was about the CFDA’s 50th anniversary, the awards seemed an appropriate venue to check in with designers about the current definition of American fashion.

“Comfort, day and night from boardroom to bedroom,” said Donna Karan.

“American fashion is the future,” offered Jason Wu. “It’s the land of opportunities. It’s where the youth and the future are.”

Diane von Furstenberg explained that it was “pragmatically stylish.”

Tommy Hilfiger, on hand to pick up the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, said American fashion is “eclectic and evolving and powerful in the world.

Post-awards, guests filed out of the auditorium for dinner, and several boldface names and designers bolted for Monkey Bar, where Hilfiger celebrated his award with a more intimate meal. Jessica Paré, Jason Wu, Zoe Saldana, Bernadette Peters, Victor Cruz, Prabal Gurung, Karan, Tory Burch, Sophie Theallet, Peter Som and Simon Spurr took over the eatery’s banquettes and feted the designer well past midnight.

Those looking for even later-night pursuits moved onto the Top of the Standard, where a handful of party faithfuls populated the official CFDA Fashion Awards Swarovski after party. Appropriately, all three Swarovski Award winners for emerging talent — Joseph Altuzarra, Phillip Lim and Tabitha Simmons — were there, as were Dakota Fanning, Jack Huston, Lily Collins, Kate Bosworth, Heather Graham, Harley Viera-Newton, Sophia Bush, Alexander Wang and Jacobs.

Asked for his highlights from the awards show, Jacobs didn’t take the Meyers bait and offered a shoulder shrug.

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