PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS: Few things are as anticipated in fashion circles on these muggy July days than the Council of Fashion Designers of America meeting next Monday, where the 26 board members are expected to elect the next president to replace Stan Herman, who departs in late October. Contenders Diane von Furstenberg and Joseph Abboud will step in front of the board members and will have 10 minutes to make their cases.

Rumors of intense lobbying have made the rounds, which both contenders downplayed. "I am not a politician, I have not done any loving," von Furstenberg said on Wednesday. "I wrote a letter to the board and will speak to them for 10 minutes on Monday. Whomever they choose will be the right choice, and I will continue to be an active member of the board if Joseph wins. If they elect me, I will take it very seriously and it will be my full honor."

Abboud, for his part, said he has been mentally preparing for Monday for a while. "I am going to try to focus on stating my case more than anything on Monday," he said. "I want it to be from the heart. The lobbying part of this is not the part I enjoy," he added. "I sent out a letter to my fellow board members and officially announced my candidacy, but there has been no dining and wining, and no expensive presents."

The one to succeed would be joining an illustrious list of fashion designers who have held the position since 1963, including Norman Norell, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Mary McFadden, Perry Ellis and Carolyn Roehm. Von Furstenberg is sure to add much glamour and her determined will to the presidency, as well as her top-notch Rolodex, while Abboud, who is said to have made himself available to members in the past few months, is considered to have more time on his hands now that he is estranged from his company.

"We have two major candidates," said Herman, who refused to take sides. "It took me 15 years to get someone interested, and now we have two major names who want the job. Both candidates have said they will accept the winner and continue to work for the Council's benefits."

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