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On red carpet at CFDA Fashion Awards, individuality, basic black win

Basic black is back in style at CFDA Fashion Awards

Among the winners at the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards held Monday night in New York City, there were some well-knowns (Tom Ford and Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row, who took the Menswear and Womenswear Designer of the Year Awards, respectively) and some up-and-comers (Rosie Assoulin, Hood by Air and Mansur Gavriel, who each took home Swarovski Awards honoring emerging talent).

And as always, the event where American fashion gathers to celebrate itself brought out a bevy of celebs, including Kim Kardashian West, who gave the Media Award to Kevin Systrom for Instagram, and Kanye West, who presented the Style Icon Award to Pharrell Williams.

On the red carpet, Julianna Margulies was the most undressed, wearing a sparkling Michael Kors number that covered her top, but revealed underwear briefs on the bottom. Yawn. Kardashian West was also predictably bare, just hours after announcing to the world that she is pregnant with baby No. 2, wearing a beaded, feathered gown by Proenza Schouler.

But the bigger news was the departure from the nearly nude, over-the-top, "look-at-me" dressing trend that 2014 Style Icon Rihanna took to the extreme at last year's awards, when she wore a sheer mesh Adam Selman gown exposing her nipples, and a return to the always-appropriate and subtle basic black (which also worked for the rainy evening).

Victoria Beckham struck the right note in a black gown of her own design, on the arm of Vogue International editor-at-large Hamish Bowles‎, who played the male peacock in a Dries Van Noten bold floral print suit. Speaking of male peacocks, Hood by Air designer Shayne Oliver was also a cool character in a zippered black blazer, shorts and platform shoes, with the letters “HBA” stenciled in red on the top of his head.

J. Crew's Creative Director and President Jenna Lyons ‎looked great, and like herself, in a black satin pants suit with cropped, full legged pants, and her signature specs, as did designer Vera Wang in a black jumpsuit of her own design.

Vanessa Traina Snow wore a chic black/gunmetal linked hair calf dress with a 1960s feel from the Fall 2015 Calvin Klein Collection. Bella Hadid chose a black inverted pleat jumpsuit by Misha Nonoo, and Banks wore a black leather bustier and oversized pantsuit by Public School.

By contrast, rather than allowing himself to be dressed by "insert name here," Williams took a stand for individuality, fashion's current buzz word, flouting the black tie dress code by wearing faded jeans, a blue leather jacket and military cap. It was almost an anti-fashion statement that proved why he's the right style icon for right now. On stage Williams spoke about his style journey, crediting his enthusiasm for customizing his Chuck Taylor kicks as an inspiration, according to a news release. "Freedom is whatever you want it to be," he said. 

And so is fashion.

And after the Met Gala's crazy spectacle, which had many observers scratching their heads and wondering if the fashion establishment had lost its grip on reality, it was a good time for some humility and restraint.

Several of the winners suggested a quieter mood for fashion too. The Row, designed by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, is known for anonymous-looking luxe, while Mansur Gavriel designer Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel have built their brand on the idea of sparely designed, logo-free anti-It bags.

‎The rest of the awards were as follows: Tabitha Simmons took home the Accessory Designer of the Year Award, Millard "Mickey" Drexler, chairman and CEO of J. Crew, received the Founders Award, Betsey Johnson the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, and Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaulo Piccioli of Valentino the International Award. The event was hosted by "The Late Late Show" host James Corden.

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