By  on March 14, 2007

If Monday night's warm-up to the Council of Fashion Designers of America's annual awards ceremony was any indication, this year's shindig will be one for the scrapbook. Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Michael Kors, Gilles Mendel, Nicole Miller, Mary McFadden, Dennis Basso and Richard Lambertson were among the 250 people who turned up at the Rooftop Gardens at Manhattan's Rockefeller Center to help their ringleader, Diane von Furstenberg, unveil this year's nominees.

Before the festivities got under way, Lauren, a men's wear nominee and the recipient of the first American Fashion Legend Award, said, "There would be no CFDA organization unless young people were involved. It is the job of all designers to keep it going and to strive to attract young people to fashion, and to keep them wanting to come into that world."

With a $5 million donation from the Geoffrey Beene Estate, the CFDA has another reason to celebrate — this year's event will be the silver anniversary. Von Furstenberg was still revved up about the CFDA's board meeting earlier that day. "Today's board meeting was very exciting and everyone got very involved. It was probably the most exciting one we have ever had," she said.

Robert Lee Morris was so excited about his winning the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award that he took a few steps forward when von Furstenberg spread the news. "I'm not finished yet," she said.

Afterward, Wang, who was on hand to announce the women's wear nominees, said, "This is the most important award because you're being judged by your peers and the people in your industry. You have to prove yourself every day and in every way."

So much so, this year's selection committee has increased 20 percent compared with last year's, said CFDA executive director Steven Kolb. "April 23 the ballots go out, so make sure you vote and get them back in," he told the crowd.

The younger tier of designers was out in force — with Thom Browne, Phillip Lim, Doo-Ri Chung, Thakoon Panichgul, Lela Rose, Rag & Bone's David Neville and Marcus Wainwright leading the charge. Marchesa's Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig dropped in to spread the cheer and camaraderie. "We're very close with Thakoon and the Rodarte girls [Kate and Laura Mulleavy]. We did the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund together," said Craig.Ditto for Phillip Lim, a nominee for Swarovski's Perry Ellis Award for women's wear along with Thakoon and the Mulleavys. "It's like camp because we were all involved with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund last year. I'm sincerely happy for everyone," said Lim.

This sentiment of brotherly love apparently extended to the CFDA's hierarchy. The crowd cheered when von Furstenberg announced Bono would pick up a special award at this year's awards ceremony.

Other revelers got into the spirit of the Swarovski-sponsored event by helping themselves to crystals that adorned the reflection pool.

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