At the risk of biting the hand that awards you, Monday night's 11th annual Accessories Council Excellence Awards left the already weary fashion crowd feeling like it had truly hit the proverbial wall.

For one thing, Cipriani 42nd Street is starting to feel like a home away from home — and not necessarily in a good way. The group was served the same hunk of beef, white and red wines, dessert and even cookies they've been getting at all the events they've attended at the venue over the last few weeks.

As for these awards, they seemed to sum up the maxim that what can go wrong, will. From emcee "two-time Emmy award winner" Deborah Norville having to shush the crowd during her long-winded opening monologue ("I said this event will be one you'll be talking about, but I didn't mean now," she reprimanded them) to the bad disco lighting effects and poor sound system to missed cues throughout the evening, it was one long night.

J. Crew chief executive Mickey Drexler tried to inject a personal touch during his presentation of the Specialty Store of the Year award to Scoop's Stefani Greenfield by blowing up photos of her baby daughter, Theo, complete with relevant accessories. Unfortunately, no one told Drexler he would be 50 feet away from the nearest table and up on a high stage — or that the lights would be so dim the pictures would be barely visible. There then was an awkward three minutes when Drexler, award in hand, literally had to walk down the stairs to find Greenfield so the two of them could come back on stage together and she could accept.

That set the tone. The weird, sprouting videos that were supposed to accompany each award winner didn't work at first, leaving Norville to save the day. Nonplussed, she ad-libbed a tale of a Christmas party at her apartment when the tree fell on her son, leaving only his feet exposed. "I feel like that tonight," she joked. "The tree has fallen and only our feet are sticking out."

Perhaps part of the problem was the evening's incongruity. Take the Fashion Innovator award. A time to honor Rei Kawakubo? Azzedine Alaïa, maybe? No, Mandy Moore. Now her fashion line may be doing well, but giving her an award for "fashion innovator" at this early stage seemed more a play to get another celebrity in the room than honoring true merit. Lucy Liu was due to accept the Hall of Fame award on behalf of Valentino, but surprised by bringing Patricia Field up on stage as well — with Field's hair an even brighter red in honor of the occasion. Are they the best who could be found to represent "The Chic"?

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