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NEW YORK — As college campuses across the country gear up for freshman rush, the Council of Fashion Designers of America welcomed its newest members with a party at Vera Wang’s home here on Tuesday night, and the rookies proved they can hold their own.
Roll call was thankfully never taken, but the CFDA’s student body was well represented, from Alice Roi to Yeohlee. Guests made themselves right at home in Wang’s perfectly appointed Park Avenue pad, with more than a few wondering aloud, “Can we see the bedrooms?”
Wang’s husband, Arthur Becker, was unfazed by the onslaught from Seventh Avenue. Asked if he had any reservations about hosting the bash, Becker deadpanned, “Nah, we rent this out on weekends.”
As the night wore on, the only ones who showed any signs of wear and tear were the hosts’ two young daughters, keeping a smile on despite a few boisterous guests and the snap-happy photographers.
In line with most of the crowd, Doo-Ri Chung, a CFDA newcomer, was up for the party.
“For them to welcome me into this feels like a big, huge fraternity,” Chung said. “It kind of kicked up what I’m doing to the next level. For me as a student, this is the most amazing thing.”
She was not the only one left a little starstruck by the occasion. Derek Lam, another freshman, said, “It’s very humbling to be in a room with all these incredible designers and to still know I have a huge way to go.”
Carolina Herrera, Francisco Costa, Italo Zucchelli, Nicole Miller, Marc Bouwer, Oleg Cassini, Jill Stuart and Stan Herman were other designer minglers. Herrera enthused about the newcomers, “The first thing people ask about fashion is, ‘What’s new?’ So new faces, new energy, new everything is good — I love it.”
Costa said the shindig was better than a class reunion.
“Celebrating the people who are joining this group is good,” he said. “Broadway artists have their union. With the CFDA, we feel that we’re protected.”
Miller surprised her dinner companion Richard Mishaan by wearing a chartreuse shirtdress he designed in the Eighties. “I’ve been waiting for the right moment to wear it,” Miller said.
Juicy Couture co-founder Gela Nash-Taylor’s husband, John Taylor of Duran Duran fame, could have used a little extra protection from a few overzealous guests.
“I was standing there talking to him, thinking, ‘You are so handsome.’ I felt like a rock groupie or something,” one designer confessed.
Some decamped to the outer rooms to swap secrets. As one guest admitted, “It’s nice to be in a room filled with people you like. Of course, there are always a few you don’t like.”
Donna Karan’s Patti Cohen dug out a beauty product from her purse for Wang. “If it’s a rejuvenator, I’ll use it 24 hours a day,” laughed Wang, who earlier in the night described herself as “the oldest young designer.”
Nash-Taylor was equally forthcoming about her attire. She was quick to note her black strapless dress is from her company’s Couture Couture dress collection, which makes its debut at retail this spring. Turning up the hem to reveal sequined netting, she said, “We never used to have anything to wear out at night. Now we do.”
Her husband was impressed by the fashion scene.
“I find it quite inspiring actually,” Taylor said. “They really have to deliver constantly. There’s a lot more perspiration in the inspiration. We could use more of that in the music industry. Musicians are allowed more time to create. The more successful you get, the less demands are placed on you. Major performers put out a record every three years. It’s not like the Sixties or Seventies when they would put out a record every year.”
Continually interrupted by arriving and departing guests, Wang, in a necklace given to her by Alber Elbaz, said, “My biggest fear was that nobody would come and for the first half hour there were four people here. But now I’m really happy. Only in our industry would people be here in August in the middle of the week. It’s like a class reunion in the best possible way.”