Glory & Glitches

"Well, that was an odd evening," one designer mused.

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“Well, that was an odd evening,” one designer mused at the end of the long (but, thankfully, not tooooo long) CFDA awards Monday night. “Not bad, mind you. Just odd.”

And there were certainly plenty of off-kilter — as well as heartfelt — moments throughout the night. Just as the ceremony appeared to be running unusually smoothly under Team Captain Diane von Furstenberg — who cracked the figurative whip as she personally shooed guests downstairs to dinner to keep to schedule — things started to get quirky almost from the moment the awards themselves began. (OK, the food was a problem again — fish in paper? At least it arrived promptly this time around.)

Once again, the videos proved to be too long and, at times, downright weird, ranging from naked women and men flitting about for the Swarovski men’s wear nominees to meditating men lulling the audience to sleep in the one for Menswear Designer of the Year. One exception: the zippy retrospective of 25 years of CFDA awards.

But the CFDA should pass a rule that awards don’t go to people who don’t show. Sure, Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson, are doing great things, but are they really so busy they couldn’t drop in from Dublin to pick up their statue for the Board of Directors’ Special Tribute? Another proposed rule: If you can’t get the real thing, don’t go for the impersonator. Case in point: poor comedienne Nicole Parker’s impersonation of a handbag-laden Ellen DeGeneres proved just how tough the fashion crowd can be — they sat stone-faced as she died a slow, but nevertheless well-accessorized, death on stage.

The group then became utterly confused when Pierre Cardin decided to accept his International Award with a five-minute soliloquy — completely in French, even though he speaks fluent English. “I wasn’t going to translate for him,” joked Marc Jacobs, who introduced Cardin. “Everyone in the room has been to Paris at least once, so they should have been able to understand him.”

But for every bump, the evening at times soared to the heights it should achieve. Uma Thurman’s take on being able to understand Patrick Demarchelier was funny, especially when the unintelligible photographer appeared on his video, as was Robert Lee Morris’ description of his outfit — complete with eight-foot spear and wrist-to-elbow bangles — when he went to a party for Andy Warhol, which left the designer wondering, “What kind of person have I become?”

This story first appeared in the June 6, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The very late-arriving Oprah Winfrey — who sucked the oxygen out of a room packed with other celebrities and designers as guest after guest swooned in her presence — gushed over Ralph Lauren in presenting his American Fashion Legend award. And the designer returned the favor, saying of the talk-show hostess: “Hopefully, maybe she’ll be president someday,” as Winfrey stood nearby shaking her head firmly no. Lauren emotionally thanked his wife, Ricky, in his speech, as well as his children and colleagues.

Emotions also ran high for Swarovski’s Accessory Design award-winner Jessie Randall. “I think I’m very hormonal right now,” sobbed the designer, who is carrying twins, in her speech. Derek Lam, meanwhile, had other problems. “I’m so drunk,” he let slip as he accepted the award for Accessory Designer of the Year (and he didn’t appear to be kidding).

But then, just as the evening was winding down at around 11, things really went off the rails. Ellen Barkin, the evening’s emcee, proclaimed Oscar de la Renta as the sole Womenswear Designer of the Year. As the crowd rose in a standing ovation, a frantic Steven Kolb of the CFDA ran toward the stage waving at Barkin, who realized she’d neglected the fine print — that it was a tie with Proenza Schouler. De la Renta remained smiling, as always the ideal gentleman, as Barkin joked: “See, if I were 25 years younger, I could have read that.”

Once the still-puzzled crowd calmed down, the duo stepped to the podium, only to be interrupted by Lazaro Hernandez‘s ringing cell phone. “Oh my God, it’s my mom,” he laughed, before shutting the ringer off (he cleverly left it on speaker so she could hear his speech).

De la Renta then saved the day, tearfully thanking his wife, Annette, “for being with me every single second at the time when I needed her most,” and saying that everyone in the room was a winner. He also thanked von Furstenberg for her leadership of the CFDA. “For me, it’s very important that it moves fast so that people don’t get bored,” von Furstenberg said Tuesday.

Afterward, revelers headed downtown. Diddy held a post-event bash at Marquee, while Jack McCollough and Hernandez celebrated with pals Chloë Sevigny and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen at the Beatrice Inn, where Bosworth sat on Josh Hartnett‘s lap as he talked up Helena Christensen. Meanwhile, Donna Karan, Eva Mendes, Brian Atwood, Rachel Zoe and Francisco Costa partied into the wee hours at Bungalow 8.

For additional photos from the evening, click here.

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