Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — The Council of Fashion Designers of America is changing the approach to its membership base and loosening its rules on what defines an American designer.
As a result, Helmut Lang and Tom Ford are among a roster of 24 designers elected to CFDA membership, announced on Monday. Lang, an Austrian native, was considered since he moved his business to New York two years ago, while Ford, creative director for Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci, was considered because he is an American designer working in Europe.
In other CFDA news of global import, the organization is expected to announce today that Brazilian model-of-the-moment Gisele Bundchen will act as a spokesmodel for its Fashion Targets Breast Cancer initiative.
Bundchen will be presented as “The Face of Fashion Targets Breast Cancer 2000” at a reception at Canteen, a restaurant in Manhattan, today at a 6 p.m. event toasting CFDA’s Brazilian partners in the FTBC program. The reception is honoring the Instituto Barsileiro de Controle do Cancer, which became the first international partner of FTBC in 1995 and has raised $5.9 million for the program, selling 1.3 million T-shirts in the world’s most successful FTBC program.
Stan Herman, president of the CFDA, said the 24 members elected to the organization is the highest number of designers elected in a year, bringing the total membership to 241.
“This is the first year we’ve taken into consideration the way American designers have spread themselves around the world or how European designers have been coming to work here,” said Herman, noting that the organization changed its approach to its bylaws to consider Lang, Ford and others.
“It was necessary because these people represent a global American standard right now, and I don’t think we should be provincial,” Herman said. “America has become a bigger player in the fashion scene, and I think 2000 is an important year for us to move into a bigger scope by opening it up to more designers who work here or who are American and work elsewhere.”
Other women’s wear designers elected this year are Leigh Bantivolio, Sully Bonnelly, David Dartnell for David Dart Design Group, Marie-Anne Oudejans for Ardeche, George Simonton, Rebecca Taylor and Sharon and Angela Wright of The Wrights.
Men’s wear designers elected are Jason Bunin, Marc Ecko of Ecko Design, Everett Hall, Maurice Malone, Tony Melillo of Nova USA and John Varvatos.
Accessories designers elected are George Gublo and Michael Spaulding of Gunmetal, Reed Krakoff from Coach, Steven Lagos, Richard Lambertson and John Truex of Lambertson Truex, Selima Salaun of Selima Optique and Cathy Waterman.