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“The prince of New York City” is what Diane von Furstenberg said of Seth Meyers, and indeed, the comedian and late-night talk-show host kept the crowd at Monday night’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards laughing as he introduced keynote speaker Stella McCartney.

“This is the night I will never forget,” he said. “I am sitting next to Diane and she asked me to Google something for her. I took out my phone and then Serena Williams busted me for still having a BlackBerry. So it’s a good night for me right off the bat.”

This story first appeared in the November 5, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Standing onstage against the backdrop of evergreen trees at Spring Studios, he said, “I think if you were a 13-year-old girl who loved the wilderness in fashion, this would be your perfect Bat Mitzvah.”

As for the fund itself, he said it was the reason he doesn’t have a fashion career of his own. “It wasn’t around when I started,” he said. “When I finished college in the early Nineties, I had a lot of great fashion ideas. I was the first person who thought that maybe people would want to have pockets that could carry cargo in them, but this wasn’t around so somebody else got that idea.”

Guests — including Caroline Wozniacki, Ben Stiller, Vera Wang, Greta Gerwig, Atlanta de Cadenet, Joseph Altuzarra, David Lauren, Eve Hewson, Joan Smalls and Karlie Kloss — appeared to love the shtick. It was a good warm-up for McCartney’s heartfelt remarks, which touched on her atypical childhood, her career trajectory and her conviction as a woman’s designer for women who doesn’t use fur, leather or PVC.

A round of internships led to the fashion department at British Vogue, “an experience I have to admit proved a bit too fashion for me,” McCartney said.

After her stint designing Chloé, the designer was itching to return to her native London. “When I left, the executive looked at me and said, ‘You name me one brand with a woman’s name on the door that’s come out of Britain and had any global success,’” she recalled. “That really stuck with me and I have to say I am still determined to this day to prove him wrong.”

Then Tom Ford called. “He asked me to do the women’s collections for Gucci, and I was really up for it,” she said. “We had many meetings and quite late into the process, Tom said, ‘And we will stop doing fur for you,’ and I said, ‘That is great, Tom, but I don’t do leather either.’ His response was X-rated.” Ford later offered her the chance to start her own label with Gucci Group.

Then the winners were announced; first, the two runners up, Eva Zuckerman of Eva Fehren and Ryan Roche.

“It’s impressive, just the fact that they can find so many young designers that are doing so many amazing things,” Joe Jonas said.

Footwear designer Paul Andrew, who has designed shoes for Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Alexander McQueen and Narciso Rodriguez, became the first accessories designer to win the top prize at the annual awards. “I am proud to receive this accolade, but there is significant work to be done,” Andrew said. “There is much more focus and energy required for the road ahead.”

Said road started the following morning. “I have a design meeting with one of my freelance clients at 9:30 a.m.,” he added, “so I have a busy day tomorrow.”

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