The CFDA Awards took place at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall last night, uniting fashion stars young and old in a glitzy ceremony-cum-schmoozefest-cum-drag show. No other event brings out every designer in town, resulting in rather bizarre visions. Where else can you see Vera Wang rubbing elbows with Eddie Borgo, or Daphne Guinness chatting with L’Wren Scott in a kind of freak-show vivant, or Olivier Theyskens’ long mane brushing against a stray Olsen twin? (For the record, at the pre-show cocktail, I chatted with ever-charming Olivier, who says he never pees in the Hudson River now that he lives in New York.)
As the show was about to start, Lady Gaga made her dramatic entrance (does she ever arrive any other way?) in a billowy black train, 12-inch heels and a small entourage of Muglerites. Kathy Griffin, who came in right behind her, grabbed my arm and shrieked, “Did you see her!? I waited like a crazy stalker just for that moment. And boy, what a moment. I mean, she was striking poses like she’s the House of Extravaganza or something. Let’s meet in ten years and remember this.”
Once the show began, there were moments of genuine class, humor, and surprise. A visibly nervous Kanye West waxed poetic about Céline’s Phoebe Philo, in an irreproachable tux of her own design, before handing her the International Designer of the Year Award; Naomi Watts tripped not over her dangerously high heels but over Lazaro Hernandez’s name as she presented the big award, Designer of the Year, to the Proenza Schouler boys: and Karolina Kurkova, the most glamorous goof ever, professing her love of Gaga with a song and dance.
The evening was full of heartfelt speeches, too. Prabal Gurung’s coming-to-America (from Nepal) story made all in Tully Hall swoon, as did Robert Geller’s romantic ode to his wife. But the night belonged to Gaga and her intelligent, funny speech. Her anecdote about how she accidentally called Anna Wintour a bitch in a text message brought the house down. The pop sensation then left the audience with the weirdest story about a talking rat named Baby Jesus.
A perennial winner at these awards, Marc Jacobs was given the Lifetime Achievement Award this year. As such, the show’s finale came in the form of a complete re-staging of his fall ’11 show, including the soundtrack, Marilyn Manson’s Beautiful People. Which pretty much summed up the night.