Diane von Furstenberg, Tom Ford and Jennifer Lopez celebrate at the CFDA Fashion Awards


Compared with the media blitz that surrounds the city’s annual Met Gala, the CFDA Fashion Awards is usually a smaller, insider fashion event, where the humble and not-so-humble who make a living in the rag trade come to honor each other and do a little gossiping — or both, if they’re lucky.

For Monday’s affair at the Brooklyn Museum, comedian and host Hasan Minhaj started the evening on a lighthearted note: “I used to shop at Ross and Target growing up so I don’t know who a lot of you are. I know some of you, some of you were on the sales rack.”

He then poked fun at Gucci for sending white models down the runway in turbans. The audience members turned to Vogue’s Anna Wintour for approval as they giggled nervously to the joke.

Hasan Minhaj speaks onstage during the CFDA Fashion Awards at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
(Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images)

As for the evening’s honors, Brandon Maxwell, the stylist to Lady Gaga who now designs dresses with Old World panache, took home Womenswear Designer of the Year and gave an effusive speech that charmed the audience. “I am so proud to be part of an industry like this,” Maxwell said at the podium, visibly fighting back tears, “where we wake up every day charged with the idea that making a woman feel good — and making someone happy — is valid.”

Designer Rick Owens, a native Californian who runs his gothic-tinged, ready-to-wear business out of Paris, won Menswear Designer of the Year. (He missed his flight and wasn’t present to accept his award.) The Row’s Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, who hail from Sherman Oaks, took home the statuette for Accessory Designer of the Year.

Bernadette Peters honored her friend, designer Bob Mackie, with the Lifetime Achievement Award. When he received the call about the award, Mackie was surprised. “You see, in my mind’s eye, I’m still 35,” he told the audience.

“Then I realized I just turned 80 in March. Then I thought, ‘Well, OK, that’s fine,’” he said with a wry grin.

Mackie was also surprised to learn that a new generation of designers looked to his work for inspiration. “At the time, I was just doing my job,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking of anything other than filling the order — doing what was required of me.”


Yara Shahidi presented Barbie — or rather, Lisa McKnight, who oversees the Barbie brand and El Segundo-based Mattel Inc.’s other doll portfolio — the Board of Director’s Tribute. The honor struck some as oddly retrograde, especially in light of the fashion industry’s recent push for diversity and inclusion.

During her turn onstage, Wintour presented Alexander McQueen’s designer Sarah Burton with the Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti International Award, for leading the label after its founder’s suicide in 2010. (Wintour and Burton have a special connection: Burton made Wintour’s daughter’s wedding dress.)

Honoree Sarah Burton, left, poses in the winner's walk with the Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti International Award and Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour at the CFDA Fashion Awards at the Brooklyn Museum in New York on Monday.
(Evan Agostini / Invision/AP)

Bits of Hollywood glamour also filled the evening, most notably with the bronzed and toned Jennifer Lopez, who was given the Fashion Icon Award.

Lopez, in a full crimson skirt and glittering crop top by another Bronx native, Ralph Lauren, thanked her “glam fam” and stylists for helping to create her standout looks. She also mentioned the buzzed-about green navel-baring Versace gown she wore to the Grammys in 2000.

Although it was a night to pay tribute to fashion’s finest, it was also a bittersweet night for designer Diane Von Furstenberg, who, after 13 years as chairwoman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, has passed the fashion baton to designer Tom Ford, who attended the CFDA Fashion Awards.

Shailene Woodley and Jonathan Simkhai attend the CFDA Fashion Awards at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
(Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images)

Von Furstenberg was a vision of glamour, standing in a contrapposto pose worthy of a museum. In a clingy rose-print dress with wind-tousled hair, Von Furstenberg served as a one-woman receiving line as fashion world luminaries such as Valentino Garavani, who had a sun-kissed complexion and perfect coif, and Michael Kors, who also had a sun-kissed complexion plus tinted aviators, chatted with her. (In return, she told them about her recent vacation.)

“This is like family,” she said, wistfully looking around the room where the awards show, which some have dubbed the Oscars of fashion, took place. Asked if she had advice for Ford, she said: “Listen to everyone. Hear no one.”

Later in the night, the fashion crowd made its way to the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District for a bustling afterparty. That’s where “Big Little Lies” star Shailene Woodley danced, with drink in hand, in a one-shoulder tuxedo jacket by New York-turned-West Hollywood designer Jonathan Simkhai.

Fashion-happy guests stood elbow to elbow and shouted above the thumping music at the central bar. At the front of the soiree, menswear designer Emily Adams Bode appeared serene, having won the Emerging Designer of the Year Award earlier in the evening.

“It’s such an honor. Seeing Tom and Diane up there,” Bode said, “it just reminds me that this is such a community, and we’re all here supporting each other. It’s not a competition.” Then she disappeared into the throng to continue celebrating.

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