Byline: Georgia Lee

ATLANTA — The first presentation of the DIVA awards, a black tie gala sponsored by the Atlanta Apparel Mart, was an answer to mart developer John Portman’s pleas for more glamour in the apparel industry.
“He’s always telling me – ‘Peggy, there’s not enough glamour in this business anymore,”‘ said Peg Canter, apparel mart general manager.
“We think [the DIVA party] was as glamorous as it gets,” she added.
The event drew 650 people to the Westin Peachtree Plaza, where designers, manufacturers and retailers were honored in 11 categories. The evening also raised $30,000 for DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS).
The award-winning designers were voted on by retailers, and retailers were chosen by manufacturers and sales representatives.
Dixie Carter, star of television’s “Designing Women,” hosted the event, and received an award for humanitarianism and personal style. Winners received Frabel statuettes in an abstract design of crystal coat hangers.
A special Erte award for Excellence, named after the famed costume designer, was given to Proffitt’s, the Tennessee-based retailer that has been on fire with recent acquisitions, including Parisian and McRae’s, for a total of 143 stores.
Glamorous touches included a model bedecked in an elaborate feathered costume inspired by Erte’s work, and gilded statues that turned out to be human. An elegant Afghan hound performed his part without a hitch.
Despite competing with the final game of the World Series, the entire night went smoothly, with several score updates announced throughout the evening. However, Andrea Jovine, accepting the award for women’s better wear, was booed off the stage when she ended her speech with “Go Yanks.”