NEW YORK — The Council of Fashion Designers of America awards gala is getting real this year.
Instead of the emphasis on Hollywood names and European designers that marked the past two galas, this year’s event, to be held Feb. 7 at Lincoln Center’s New York State Theater, will focus on what CFDA executive director Fern Mallis called “the solid majority of the fashion business, the bankable power of the industry.”
“The last couple of years — our first two at the State Theater — were very celebrity oriented,” she said. “We’re thrilled about this year’s show because it represents what’s happening now. Last year, we had a lot of young, cutting-edge, grunge-type people. This year’s winners and presenters are much more the mainstays of the industry.”
While there might still be more than a touch of show business, CFDA president Stan Herman said: ‘The awards this year truly represent 1993 and have evolved into a bow to some of the legends of the industry.”
One of them is Calvin Klein, who, as reported, will be the first designer to receive the men’s and women’s awards in the same year. He’ll get his Men’s Wear Designer of the Year Award from his friend, entertainment mogul David Geffen, who helped his company out of financial trouble in 1992. Author Fran Lebowitz will give Klein his Women’s Wear Designer of the Year Award.
Industry icons Stanley Marcus and Bill Blass are also presenters. Marcus will give Judith Leiber a Lifetime Achievement Awards, and Blass will present Eleanor Lambert, a CFDA founder, with a special tribute. Photographer Richard Avedon will present the other Lifetime Achievement Award to Polly Allen Mellen, fashion editor of Allure.
John Bartlett will receive the Perry Ellis Award for new men’s fashion talent from actors Stephen Spinella and Joe Montella of “Angels in America.”
Other presenters are still to be named for the Perry Ellis Award for new fashion talent in women’s wear, going to Richard Tyler; the International Award for Accessories, to Prada; the Eugenia Sheppard Award, which honors members of the fashion media, to Bill Cunningham of the New York Times, and special awards to Fabien Baron, art director at Harper’s Bazaar, and to the sneaker industry, a prize shared by Adidas, Converse, Keds, Nike and Reebok.
So far, there are no movie stars, although Mallis said Tyler’s Hollywood connections might result in a celeb or two presenting to him.
The show, however, will concentrate on the American fashion industry, Herman and Mallis promise. That’s a sharp contrast with the past couple of years, when the people on stage included Giorgio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, Elton John, Cher, and Beverly Sills. Two years ago, Women of the Arts Awards went to Anjelica Huston, Jessye Norman and Judith Jamison.
As a result, Mallis admitted, there was criticism that the CFDA had lost its focus in these yearly awards ceremonies.
The costs of the show will remain about the same as last year’s. Hearst Magazines is again the major underwriter. Mallis said the funding matches last year’s of about $600,000, and the budget of “just under $1 million” is in line with last year. Herman said the hope is to raise about $300,000 in funds, also about the same as last year.
Tommy Hilfiger is contributing $25,000 to underwrite the 500-seat student balcony section.