At the Council of Fashion Designers of America's annual awards ceremony Monday night, Marc Jacobs took home the womenswear designer of the year award, Rag & Bone cleaned up in the menswear category and the accessory designer of the year award went to Alexis Bittar, the 41-year-old Brooklyn-born designer whose Lucite jewelry has been a big hit with celebrities like Madonna and Cameron Diaz.
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The awards were held at Alice Tulley Hall in Lincoln Center, and virtually every designer and editor in the fashion business was there—Anna Wintour, Donna Karan, Carolina Herrera, and CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg.
Not to mention a fair amount of serious star wattage: Rachel Weisz, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Dakota Fanning, Jessica Biel.
In the back of the atrium was Sarah Jessica Parker, who posed for pictures with fans during cocktails, and then she made her way to the auditorium to give a tribute to Alexander McQueen, the well-known designer who committed suicide in February at the age of 40.
"I didn't know him that well," Parker told The Daily Beast, as guests hovered nearby. "I wouldn't claim to be a close friend. I don't want anyone thinking I'm co-opting a relationship that didn't exist, but I was a great admirer of his and I made no secret of that."
Many considered McQueen to be a little intimidating—a journalist who asked him where his genius came from was told that he had no answer to such a stupid question—but Parker didn't think this was the right way of characterizing him. "I don't think he was intimidating," Parker said. "I think he was private and shy, and because he was so creatively remarkable and quiet one might be intimidated by him. Special people are intimidating and they should be, they've earned the right to be, although he would never have thought of himself as special or intimidating.”
A woman walked over and complimented Parker on her dress, and her jewelry.
"Thank you," Parker said. "Sadly, it all has to be returned in the morning."
Nearby, another fashion staple—Gwyneth Paltrow—was hanging by the bar in a strapless black sequin number designed by her date for the evening, Michael Kors. She explained the appeal of his clothes like this: "They're easy to wear. This feels like a T-shirt, but with sequins. It’s not corseted, you can get into it yourself—you know when you put on his clothes that you'll never look back five years from now and think 'what was I doing.'"
In fact, the practicality of Kors' vision was what Anna Wintour applauded, when she presented him with a lifetime achievement award later in the evening. "Michael has always known his customer. He is the maestro of the trunk show," she said, noting how he'd once told her, back when she was an editor at New York magazine in the '80s, that he believed fashion should be "evolutionary" rather than "revolutionary."
Also honored Monday night was Iman, who accepted her "Fashion Icon" award by saying, "I am a paradox of pride and humility... I'd like to thank my mom and dad for giving me the longest neck of any model on any go-see in the entire world."
Then she took a little jab at her husband David Bowie. "Move over, because you're not the only icon anymore," she said.
Afterwards the winner's circle and many of the guests headed to 18th floor of the Standard Hotel, where Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler, the model Liya Kebede, and winners like Bittar partied until well after 1 a.m.
"You should buy a boat now," someone told jewelry designer Bittar, as Rachel Zoe and the designer Prabal Gurung danced it out to Lady Gaga and old TLC. "You're a captain of industry."
Jacob Bernstein is a senior reporter at The Daily Beast. Previously, he was a features writer at WWD and W Magazine. He has also written for New York magazine, Paper, and The Huffington Post.