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NEW YORK — For a few of this year’s contenders for Council of Fashion Designers of America awards, being nominated is an honor in and of itself.

Nominees, honorees and well-wishers turned up at Monday night’s Swarovski-sponsored party at Rockefeller Center’s Rooftop Gardens to hear firsthand who is in the running. Fresh from a vacation visiting family in his native Brazil, Francisco Costa, a finalist for Womenswear Designer of the Year, couldn’t help but take a look back. The designer has worked in the U.S. for about 18 years — longer than he’s lived in Brazil. “Coming from a different country, this is so New York, so American, so wonderful. I’m very thankful,” he said. “I feel so proud.”

Two of Costa’s competitors, Proenza Schouler’s design team of Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, were also a little shell-shocked. “I feel like this is a whole new tier. To be nominated with Francisco Costa and the brand itself, Calvin Klein … and of course, Marc Jacobs. We’ve always been obsessed with him. This is totally amazing and a little nerve-racking,” McCollough said.

McCollough and Hernandez will have time to let it sink in during their upcoming trip to Japan for a trunk show and screening of the documentary “Seamless.”

Another “Seamless” star, Doo-Ri Chung, was also trying to come to terms with her bid for Swarovski’s Perry Ellis Award for Womenswear. “I don’t like to talk about it. That’s my superstition.”

Forget niceties — this time Michael Kors, a nominee for Accessory Designer of the Year, is going for the win. “I’m excited. This is our third accessories nomination so, hopefully, the third time is the charm,” he said. “I’ve got to say, I’m the opposite of those designers who are forced to use accessories in their shows. I get my hand slapped for using too many.”

This story first appeared in the March 29, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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