The first annual CFDA Awards was held on a snowy night in January 1982, when about 200 designers and industry professionals gathered at the New York Public Library for simple acceptance speeches—no surprises, since the winners had been announced two months prior—and dinner by Eighties caterer-to-the-glamorous Glorious Food. At the time, the rules handed down by then-president Mary McFadden stipulated that only the legal husbands and wives of Council of Fashion Designers of America members were allowed in on the same ticket, a notion that seems rather quaint by today's standards. The most recent CFDA Awards gala, held in June, drew an audience of 800; scores of designers showed up with celebrity guests primped and primed for the almighty photo op.
Originally conceived as an alternative to the Coty Awards, the fashion awards show organized by publicity maven Eleanor Lambert in 1943, the CFDA Awards is at its core a fund-raiser, generating $1.3 million in 2012, though it's easy to lose sight of that amid all the spectacle.
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