NEW YORK — After a decade that was focused mostly upon extending its reach, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, in its post-fashion-show-production era, is starting to get a better grasp on its original mission.

Nearly 20 months into his tenure as executive director of the CFDA, Peter Arnold, a former corporate and securities lawyer who had little previous fashion industry experience, has driven a quiet, but effective, campaign to change some perceptions of the nonprofit organization among its designer members. During that time, Arnold has pondered the original meaning and mission of the CFDA and engaged in lengthy discussions with many of its 258 members, as well as retaining a private consulting firm to undertake a 10-month analysis on the subject.

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