Publicists at the CFDA Awards last night told reporters backstage in the press room that the night's recipient of the Fashion Icon award, Lady Gaga, would not be visiting them "because of the size of her dress." Indeed, the singer arrived promptly at the last possible minute, as expected, as the red carpet arrivals were already going into overtime, towering above everyone in what should have been immobilizingly high heelless shoes with a huge black train that would have demolished any small children standing in her way. However, when she took the stage to accept her trophy, she was trainless, having removed it to reveal sheer black panty hose worn over her signature thong. Walking up stairs — in those shoes — ass essentially bared to the most elite of the American fashion industry and doing it with grace surely deserved special recognition.
Whether or not you think Gaga deserved the trophy, it felt like everyone in the room was just waiting for the awards preceding hers to hurry up and finish so she could take the stage, a sentiment that really proved the CFDA made the perfect choice in Gaga for the fashion icon prize. Model Karolina Kurkova, looking stunning in a hooded green sequin jumpsuit by Diane Von Furstenberg, even interrupted her presentation of the three Swarovski awards for emerging talent to randomly sing a lyric from "Papparazzi," so uncontainable was her excitement. Prabal Gurung, who won the Swarovski award for womenswear, said in his acceptance speech that he called his family at home in Nepal on his way to the ceremony, and they were more excited about him getting a photo with Lady Gaga than him being nominated for a prize. Anderson Cooper played it cooler than most when he introduced V editor Stephen Gan, who introduced Gaga. "Okay, it's Lady Gaga time," he said, as though slightly exasperated by all the anticipation. (He already did a 60 Minutes story on Gaga — so watching her accept an award is probably about as exciting to him as going to cover a tornado and arriving in the field to a blue sky and no breeze.)
If Gaga was the most talked-about person of the night, Anna Wintour was surely the most thanked person of the night. Even Gaga mentioned her in her acceptance speech, which was rather endearing. "I can't believe I'm allowed in here," she told the crowd, laughing. "As an anecdote I thought I might tell this story, I wasn't sure. But when I was told I won this award, Anna Wintour sent me a text message" — here she paused for dramatic effect — "She text messages." The crowd cheered. "So she sent me a text message, and it said, 'We're so excited to tell you you won the CFDA fashion icon award. And I actually thought it was Anna Treblin, who was one of my very close friends and [my stylist] Nicola's assistant, who I go out and have drinks with all the time. So I have a couple Annas in my phone, so my reply was, 'Yes, bitch, we did it.' So quite quickly I got a reply that said, 'How lovely, and we will all be waiting to see what you will wear.' And then I thought, 'Well won't you be helping me choose what I will wear?' And then I said, 'Oh! it's Anna Wintour.'"
Gaga wasn't the only person onstage last night to touch on, aside from Anna Wintour, her humble beginnings, when she wasn't rich and had to save up for her Mugler pieces. Iris Apfel, who presented the award for accessories design, remembered her first job working at Women's Wear Daily after the Depression, where she earned $15 a week. The Telegraph's Hilary Alexander, who won the media award, is thankful still now that she won't have to pay to ship her heavy trophy back to the U.K. with her. Gurung thanked the American government for the unemployment checks he received when he was just starting out. And Manderson, explaining why he was actually qualified to host the CFDA Awards, despite not really being a fashion person, said he was actually a fashion child. The CNN anchor modeled with Ford when he was growing up and showed, without embarrassment, some of the finest images from his modeling portfolio.
That slideshow was one of three times Cooper was supposed to be onstage, as the evening's host. He made it out the second time, to hype the crowd for Gaga, but did not make the closing remarks. CFDA president and delightful foreigner Diane Von Furstenberg came out and said she wasn't supposed to be doing this, but Cooper had to leave "to deal with a Weiner." Everyone in the room laughed, probably because they were about to leave to do the same thing.
Here is Lady Gaga's entire acceptance speech: