The Brooklyn Museum last night was a glittering array of supermodels, designers, celebrities, and fashion icons for the 2019 CFDA Awards. This year’s honorees included Jennifer Lopez (who was given the Fashion Icon Award), Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton, Bob Mackie, Eileen Fisher, and CR’s Carine Roitfeld, who was awarded with Founder’s Award in honor of CFDA founder Eleanor Lambert.
Often dubbed the “Oscars of fashion,” the glitzy affair—now in its 38th year—also recognized the work of today’s designers in the categories of womenswear, menswear, accessories, and emerging talent. Brandon Maxwell, Rick Owens, The Row’s Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Bode’s Emily Adams Bode took home this year’s accolades, respectively.
The evening was especially significant, because it marked Diane von Furstenberg’s final ceremony as CFDA Chairman, a position she’s held for the past 13 years. “I’m passing the torch tonight,” von Furstenberg tells CR as she passed through the pink carpet before taking her seat for the ceremony. A plastic torch in hand, her quip was perhaps both a metaphorical and literal reference: Tom Ford will officially succeed her on January 1, 2020, and as of this month, the designer will focus on her new role as chair of the fundraising campaign for the newly opened Statue of Liberty Museum.
“Designers are magicians,” she said during her speech. “They create shapes, launch colors, design silhouettes [and] a body language. They invent a new way of expressing the zeitgeist.”
Before congratulating Ford on his new appointment, von Furstenberg recounted the accomplishments she’s made at the helm of the CFDA, which include launching a health initiative for models, increasing sustainability and diversity, and strengthening America’s next fashion generation. “In fashion,” she adds, “it’s all about making a glamorous entrance, but beautiful exits are important, too.”
While the night signaled a new chapter for fashion organization, it also acknowledged industry titans—some real, some fictional—including Mackie and Barbie, the latter of who recently celebrated 60 years and was commemorated through two limited-edition covers of CR’s latest issue. (Mackie was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, while the iconic doll was honored with the Board of Director’s Tribute Award.)
“I’m so thrilled to be giving my friend Bob recognition and to celebrate him tonight,” Broadway legend Bernadette Peters tells CR ahead of the ceremony.
“We’ve known each other since 1967,” Mackie noted. “You really get to know people when you work together for that long.”
The prolific designer added that he was looking forward to meeting several new faces—specifically, Christian Siriano. “I am really hoping I get to meet Christian tonight,” he said. “He does such good work.”
Mostly, though, Mackie said he was just happy to be there: “I haven’t been involved in the CFDA in quite some time. I thought the were through with me, but evidently not,” he chuckled.
Another fashion veteran in attendance was nightlife extraordinaire Susanne Bartsch, who stunned in a gold, armor-like ensemble. “I call this look ‘showbiz,’” she tells CR. “It’s a fabulous event—I’m excited to be here. The last time I came to the CFDA Awards, I was with Thierry Mugler. That was a long time ago!” Bartsch will join the association again later this month for the 30th edition of Love Ball, which raises money for HIV/AIDS.
The night was especially significant for Carine, as she was introduced by Ford, who she’s worked with for more than two decades. “Carine is one of the most inspiring, influential, and extraordinary women I know,” he said. “Her innate sense of how women want to dress while navigating the complexities of their lives never fall to amaze and astound me. As a friend, she’s fun, never judgmental, and infinitely loyal. And she has to be the sexiest grandmother that ever lived.”
“For a someone who was once just a stylist in Paris, I’ve come a long way to be here,” Carine tells CR. “I never received an award in my country—I had to go to America to receive one,” she laughed. “I’m very, very happy.”