NEW YORK--Hearst Publications has pulled its half-million-dollar sponsorship of the Council of Fashion Designers of America's annual awards gala. The move came as a surprise to many designers, but not to Fern Mallis, executive director of the CFDA, who said she'd known about Hearst's intention to pull its sponsorship since last year's awards event. "It doesn't come as a shock to us," said Mallis. "We knew last season that it would be the last year Hearst would sponsor us, but nobody asked us." The sponsorship gave Hearst plenty of publicity at the gala, but the move is seen as an attempt by the publisher to cut costs. D. Claeys Bahrenburg, president of the Hearst Magazines division of The Hearst Corp., was unavailable for comment. There won't be a problem meeting the budget this year, said Mallis. The CFDA is "finalizing contractual agreements" with a new sponsor, but Mallis declined to say who it is. Sources said, however, that Dom Perignon, the champagne producer owned by LVMH Mot Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is in discussions to provide underwriting of the glitzy gala, which has cost close to $1 million to produce each year.
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