Byline: Kevin West

The third time proved to be the charm for the VH-1 Fashion Awards at Madison Square Garden Friday night. Sure, the taping dragged on, and there were some gags and jokes that fell embarrassingly flat. But, really, it didn’t matter, because this year the awards show was an Event.
For one, there were more designers than ever. John Galliano, Donatella Versace, Tom Ford, Donna Karan, Isaac Mizrahi, Narciso Rodriguez, Stella McCartney and Antonio Berardi were all in the audience. The one designer not on hand to pick up his award, for Best Menswear, was Helmut Lang.
Hosts Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr. also made a pretty good showing — at least they kept track of all their lines and costume changes. After she sees herself on TV, though, Judd may wish she hadn’t insisted on wearing all vintage dresses, as “an homage to 20th century style.” The awards will be broadcast tomorrow night — and about a thousand times after that.
Claire Danes opened the show by presenting her good buddy Narciso Rodriguez the award for Best New Designer. Two and a half hours later, the evening drew to a close when Mariah Carey — who looked like a chocolate pudding in her tight Gucci evening dress — gave Galliano the award for Best Womenswear Designer.
In between, Donatella Versace looked dignified and glamorous as she received a warm ovation for her Best Secondary Collection award.
“I always believed fashion and music inspired each other,” she said. “This award is dedicated with love to my brother.”
While the latest styles carried the day, Jim Carrey was out to prove that clothes don’t always make the man. He arrived on stage via a giant conveyor belt to introduce the Rolling Stones — dressed in nothing but a fig leaf.
“This is where fashion began,” he said. “Originally modeled by Adam in the garden, this fig leaf and forbidden fruit ensemble dares to say: Banish me.”
Apparently, the $20 million dollar man had suggested his own outfit. He faxed a detailed design to VH-1, which then had a New York tailor sew it up. Carrey also made it very clear that he wouldn’t wear regular briefs with his fig leaf — it had to be a G-string. After combing the city, a stylist finally found an appropriate one in a fetish shop on Christopher Street — somewhere Jim Carrey’s probably never shopped before. At the fitting, though, the leaf turned out to be too small and had to be quickly redone in a more ample size. And it brought the house down.
As for the Rolling Stones, they are hardly fresh-faced, but they rocked and will certainly be a big draw for VH-1’s nationwide audience.
Fiona Apple, on the other hand, was a turnoff. Although her video for “Criminal” won Most Stylish Video, onstage this Apple was rotten — or at least bad-mannered. The 19-year-old victim of heroine chic looked jaundiced with her yellow eye make-up and wore a ragged purple chiffon skirt over black pants.
“I got it from Strawberry or Urban Outfitters or something like that,” she said. “I’m serious.” This time we believed her.
The brightest stars of the night turned out to be Bono and Courtney Love. Wearing his trademark wraparound shades and black leather, the U2 frontman swaggered out on stage to present the Best Personal Style award to Love.
“It’s time that Irish musicians were given credit for being at the forefront of the fashion industry,” he declared. “We’ve seen the English and the Americans with all their Seventies clothes, and we just laugh. We had that in the Eighties.
“And besides,” he added, “we invented all that starving waif shit.” True or not, that last word will not make it onto the airways.
The award’s recipient was everything but waif-like as she worked her curves in a pink Versace.
“I always thought I was pretty fabulous before,” she said, eyeballing the award that officially appoints her fashion icon. “Whatever.”
The man who practically invented the new Courtney Love — Steven Meisel — also won an award, for Fashion Photographer of the Year. But he wasn’t there to pick it up, so VH-1 simply struck the entire category from the program, leaving David LaChapelle, who was waiting to present, in the lurch.
“I don’t know why they didn’t present the award. Did they just forget?” fumed LaChappelle, who won last year. “I guess this means I get to keep the tiara.”

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