For those of us who follow fashion semi-religiously, the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s annual awards presentation (say that five times fast) is like the Oscars. The red-carpet dresses, the pageantry, the guest list… Well, actually, it’s more like fashion’s version of the Tony Awards, since as you watch the winners being announced, you’re turning to your friend going, “Crap, I’m never going to get into that show now.” For American Fashion Legend Award winner, Ralph Lauren, it’s likely that not much in the empire will change. (Hell, he won for Menswear, too — is there something in the water over there?) If anything, the big surprise of the evening was the tie between Oscar de la Renta and Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler for Womenswear Designer of the Year. I can’t imagine how those two must have felt. You’ve only been in business for five years, and you’re standing next to a podium with Oscar de la freaking Renta holding awards. Meanwhile, somewhere Zac Posen is throwing a glass of champagne at the wall.
But I digress. The highlight of the CFDA awards, at least for the past few years, has been the ‘newcomer’ awards, formerly the Perry Ellis Awards, now the Swarovski Awards for the best new design talent out there. These are the designers whose price points will undoubtedly be going up next year, whose collections will start selling out faster, and who — horror of horrors — may even pull a Marc Jacobs and move away from the country entirely (he won the Perry Ellis in 1987).
So it was bittersweet when one of my favorite designers, Phillip Lim, won the Swarovski Award for Womenswear. Lim beat out Rodarte and Thakoon for the prize, and I have to admit that even I was expecting Thakoon to win. He’d really been an editorial favorite (and his price point is, ahem, already pretty high), but I will admit that Lim’s past two collections have been consistently highlighted across the board, from Nylon to Vogue. In another devastating blow (slash, glorious achievement), Jessie Randall won the Swarovski Award for Accessory Design for Loeffler Randall. While I am obliged to congratulate the winners, I’m probably going to cry one single, shiny tear standing in the middle of Bergdorf Goodman next fall, looking at the price tags on those Lim jackets and Loeffler Randall pumps. Well, maybe Zac Posen and I can just cry together.