NEW YORK — Not one to mince words, Geoffrey Beene and a few friends, who also like to turn the tables, managed to take the woodenness out of a potentially yawn-inducing panel discussion Tuesday morning.

True to form, the architecturally inclined designer, the recipient of this year’s American Original National Design Award, did not dwell on his accolades, even though the breakfast at the New York Athletic Club was billed as a reflection on his career. Grace Mirabella, Paper magazine’s Kim Hastreiter and Marylou Luther of the International Fashion Syndicate kept him in check, peppering him for his views on runway shows, uniforms, mass-market stores and licensing, and offering some of their own.

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