In case you’ve ever wondered what Vera Wang’s apartment looks like, it’s very big and very fancy, as the Cut got to see for ourselves last night when Wang hosted a party for the CFDA’s new members for 2010, of which there are 29. And we weren't the only ones to be awed by her digs: We caught Tommy Hilfiger and his wife, Dee Ocleppo, sneaking out of the kitchen at one point, where they had been snooping. “It's amazing. The kitchen is sick,” said Hilfiger. Ocleppo added, “Our kitchen is like, a tenth of that size. That's like a restaurant kitchen.”
So, is being a CFDA member just all open-bar parties in huge, tastefully lit Park Avenue apartments with sick kitchens, or are there secret handshakes and passwords and initiation rituals? “I’m all for hazing! I think they should,” said Ocleppo, nodding vigorously. Hilfiger shook his head. “This is it. The CFDA's hazing is having cocktails at Vera Wang’s apartment.” Ocleppo looked disappointed. "I wish I'd joined this sorority in college."
The application process is a bit like hazing in itself, according to new inductee Robert Geller, who has also been nominated for a CFDA award this year. “There's an application, and you have to put together a portfolio and tell them exactly who you are. You have to have reference letters from people in the industry, and from members,” he explained. Designers must then submit everything to the CFDA’s admissions committee, which includes Vera Wang. “The board vets every single person,” Wang said, adding that they also hold veto power. “The board can reject people, or make comments.”
Diane Von Furstenberg affirmed that many designers don’t make the cut: “I have to tell you that there were a lot of them that were not accepted. So don't think that we just go and give it to anybody.” Accessories designer Rebecca Minkoff, who is one of this year’s new members, admitted that she’s been rejected before. “When you don’t get accepted, you get a letter — a very well-written letter. But if you get accepted Steven [Kolb] calls you personally,” she said. “When I got the phone call, I thought he was calling to say, like, ‘Your portfolio is missing everything,’ and when he called and said, ‘We’d like to welcome you,’ I was like ‘Holy. Fucking. Shit.’ Literally. I then had to apologize.” No one seemed to know the exact acceptance rate, which varies from year to year depending on the number of applicants (hundreds). Added Minkoff, “I don’t know who was turned away, because no one is like, ‘Yeah! I got rejected!’ But I know there’s a lot of people who apply.”