Meet Next Year’s Really Expensive Designers

06/24/2009 4:00 AM |

As I’ve said before in these pages, the annual awards ceremony held
by the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) is a little bit
like going to see your favorite indie rock band perform at Radio City.
On one hand, you’re ecstatic they’ve found the kind of success they
always deserved. On the other hand, you miss being part of the small
crowd at Cake Shop cheering them on. Maybe with a free beer even. There
is no free beer at the CFDA Awards. There is champagne, however, which
should provide some consolation for fans like me of the Swarovski Award
winners (aka the indies): Tim Hamilton for menswear, Alexander Wang for
womenswear and Justin Giunta (of Subversive Jewelry) for accessories.
If you could (albeit barely) afford them now, just wait till you see
the prices on their Spring 2010 collections. Oof.

Of course Alexander Wang has become something of a cult designer in
New York and L.A., so his recognition wasn’t wholly a surprise —
though his laid-back attitude about the event rather was (boyfriend
wore shorts and claimed to have forgotten the awards were even that day
when he woke up). It should be said, however, that he beat out Jason Wu
for his prize — Jason Wu of “I dress Michelle Obama” fame.

And speaking of Michelle Obama, she graciously accepted the Board of
Director’s Special Tribute for her outstanding style and support of
under-the-radar designers (like, oh, non-winner Jason Wu, who by that
point was probably chugging champagne somewhere). Granted, she accepted
by video, but everyone felt all warm and fuzzy regardless. Come to
think of it, there seems to be an increasing number of feel-good awards
at the CFDAs of late. There’s already the (slightly vague)
International Award (Marc Jacobs this year) and the Geoffrey Beene
Lifetime Achievement Award (whose career is now officially behind them?
Anna Sui, apparently). Now this year adds another one to the roster:
The “Popular Award” — as opposed to the “People’s Choice,” which
probably sounded too tacky and text-to-win-ish — which went to
the most over-exposed designer in America, Ralph Lauren. Rah-rah
consumerism!

But behind all the puffed-up prizing, too-cool-for-school youngsters
and Jack McCollough’s nose finally being healed after his run-in with
Kiefer Sutherland
(I’m still laughing about that one) was a truly
spectacular win: Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte took home the top
prize for womenswear, beating out serious heavy-hitters like Marc
Jacobs and Narciso Rodriguez. The Mulleavy sisters have been the
darlings of fashion insiders and editors for quite some time, but have
still managed to stay relatively low-key — avoiding super star
mishaps like broken noses, tell-all articles and Twitter wars. For that
we say: Bravo, you two. We’ll keep saving up for those dresses.