"Just because you're cute, connected, rich, and famous doesn't necessarily mean you design great stuff," Paper editor and publisher Kim Hastreiter told the crowd of designers, celebrities, editors, and bloggers at the Council of Fashion Designers of America annual awards show last night at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall when she accepted the Eugenia Sheppard Award. Hastreiter said she didn't believe in the old adage “one day you’re in, the next you’re out”; great designers have longevity. She praised everyone from Martin Margiela and Maria Cornejo to the manicure artists in Queens and Upper East Side Wasps who bring something not just to fashion, but to culture. She called herself an “outsider,” and perhaps she wasn’t the only one.
This year’s awards marked the first year bloggers were given the vote. But this being fashion, only select bloggers were awarded the honor, including Britt Aboutaleb, who is now at Elle.com but was at Fashionista at the time of voting; Rumi Neely from Fashion Toast; Bryan Boy of Bryanboy.com; and Tommye Fitzpatrick of Fashionologie. Noticeably absent were Jane Aldridge of Sea of Shoes; Tavi Gevinson of Style Rookie; Jenna Sauers, formerly known as Tatiana the Anonymous Model, of Jezebel; Fashionista's current editor, Lauren Sherman; and anyone from Racked. It's unclear whether the exclusions were intentional, or just part of the CFDA awards organizers figuring out the blogosphere.
Though our own Shop-A-Matic editor Diana Tsui got to vote, we did not. Yet the CFDA people gave us a front-row seat between presenters Dakota Fanning and Anthony Mackie, who told us he picked up his CFDA Journal for the articles. But the best part of having that seat was not sitting one row ahead of Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington or between two celebrities, one of whom wanted to tell us jokes, but having a splendid view of the Alexander McQueen tribute, introduced by Sarah Jessica Parker. After her speech, models walked across the stage wearing McQueen's entire fall 2010 collection, the last of which he created himself before committing suicide in February. In a very sad moment, the mini-fashion show finished with a video of McQueen waving to the crowd after his last runway show for his spring 2010 collection.
As for the awards themselves, there were few surprises. Alexander Wang won not for womenswear but for accessories, in Swarovski's emerging talent category. Though Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn picked Joseph Altuzarra to win the Swarovski award for womenswear, Jason Wu won. The publicity must have been nice, especially after mixed reviews for his fall show, but it's hard to rival the exposure that comes with counting First Lady Michelle Obama as one of your biggest fans.
Marcus Wainwright and David Neville of rag & bone beat Tom Ford for menswear designer, perhaps another suggestion that what the industry really wants from Ford are ladies' clothes. "There’s definitely two sides to the fashion business that are very closely intertwined," Neville told us after his win. "There’s the very sort of fabulous aspect of it and then there’s sort of the real nuts and bolts of making clothes, getting them into the stores, making sure they’re working for the retailers, and that’s the bit that really counts." He continued, "It’s not just about winning awards — it’s about people buying our clothes and appreciating the design and the quality." Did he think his customers were paying attention to his big win? "Nah. Not really. Some of them do. Editors, you know." And bloggers.
Earlier: And the CFDA Winners Are ...