NEW YORK — When the 23 newest members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America faced some of the more senior members of the American design community Tuesday night, it was clear that a few of them were a little nervous about their induction into the establishment.

"It’s a little funny that all of us new members are wearing black," observed bridal designer Reem Acra, surveying fellow CFDA newbies like David Cardona, Edmundo Castillo, Liz Collins and Alice Roi. "I guess it’s a safer color."

The neophytes were also identifiable by a boutonniere of hydrangeas and berries worn for the occasion, hosted by board member Donna Karan at her late husband’s West Village studio. While there was some awkwardness as first introductions were made around the room, many of the designers were quickly initiated by longtime member Joan Vass, who impishly started several heated debates by walking up to someone with a line such as: "You know, it’s really easy to design things."

But that was the point, said CFDA executive director Peter Arnold, adding that the new-member event would likely become a tradition for the organization as a means to foster relationships between them.

"What we’re finding is that there’s a lot more discussion going on about what it means to be a designer today," he said. "Particularly for the newer members, they are learning what it means to be part of a community of designers, and that is emerging in a profound way."

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