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Just like Karl Lagerfeld, who accepted a lifetime achievement award on Monday night, the CFDA awards were slimmed down. Way down. And in the end — despite all the pre-event whispers and bitching — that’s just the way the fashion crowd claimed to like it, at least on the night. “I’m loving this,” Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys New York, said. “I heard a lot of people carping this week about who couldn’t get in. This is more bijou, more recherche.”

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Oscar de la Renta was among those hearkening back to simpler, more intimate days. “It’s great to be here because the first CFDA awards were here,” he said. “It reminds me of that happy feeling.” Narciso Rodriguez, who was without electricity or telephone until 2 p.m. in his studio and who had a massage to relax beforehand, agreed. “It’s an intimate Met.”

But while everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves in the early going, some still wanted a larger stage. “A lot of people wished they could have been here. Hopefully we can open it up in the future,” Calvin Klein said.

Even the Mayor got caught up in the thrill of the cocktails crowd, which included Donna Karan, Christina Ricci, Marc Jacobs, Carine Roitfeld, Mario Testino, Diane Von Furstenberg, Ali MacGraw, Iman with husband David Bowie, Aerin Lauder, Penelope Cruz and Ralph Lauren. “I’m so excited because it’s full of glamorous women like Marisa Berenson,” Mayor Bloomberg said.

Of course the big question on everyone’s mind was: Who were the winners? They were Narciso Rodriguez beating out Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs for Womenswear Designer of the Year; Jacobs edging Lauren and Sean Combs for Menswear Designer of the Year; Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche winning as Accessories Designer of the Year over Jacobs and Carlos Falchi, and Rick Owens winning the Perry Ellis Award over Zac Posen, Behnaz Sarafpour and Peter Som.

But those announcements would come much, much later. In the early going, the main pastime was craning necks to spot who was there. De la Renta, meanwhile, was doing curb duty. “I’m waiting for Hillary Clinton,” he said, eyeing Town Cars as they pulled up. But she wasn’t the last. It was P. Diddy. “I’m just late because I couldn’t decide what to wear.” Of course.”