Indeed star power has never been an issue for the glamorous event, which is sponsored by Swarovski and for the second year in a row, was held at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. Come September this will be the home of New York Fashion Week and in a way the evening felt like a ceremonial groundbreaking. Who better than a martini-sipping Gwyneth Paltrow (with Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement recipient Michael Kors), teenage "runaway" Dakota Fanning, the beguiling Jessica Biel, and every noteworthy designer imaginable to help do the honors?
During the cocktail hour, the swirl of celebrity even had spectators cheering from the street. Iman, the recipient of the Fashion Icon Award, was accompanied by rock legend David Bowie and received a rousing reception. "I'm a little nervous, but excited," she said once safely tucked inside while her famous hubby quietly rubbed her hand adorned with a stack of diamond bangles. (Later on it was the supermodel who would get the biggest laugh from the crowd when she thanked the CFDA for "giving her the right to say to her husband, 'move over, you're not the only icon in the house.'")
The comforts of home was a reoccurring theme. Accessory Designer of the Year Alexis Bittar dedicated his silver Trova to his father who had come in from Maine; Alexander Wang, who took home the Swarovski Acccessory Designer of the Year prize, brought and thanked his mother; and at the podium, presenter Anna Wintour recounted how Kors created his first collection for Bergdorf Goodman with the help of his mom, Joan, who was also in the audience.
Not that mama always knows best. Swarovski Womenswear Designer of the Year Jason Wu arrived with English actress Rachel Weisz and admitted in his acceptance speech that, "I should not have gone to Columbia like my mother wanted me to, I always knew I wanted to be a designer."
During the show, a touching tribute was reserved for the late Alexander McQueen, which was introduced by Sarah Jessica Parker clad a dress that was specifically chosen for her by Sarah Burton, the label's new creative director. A mini-runway presentation ensued with models in McQueen's final collection walking out to somber classical music. The stage then opened up theater-style to reveal a giant glittering chandelier descending into a replica of the gilded baroque room where his last show took place. A touching video of McQueen waving goodbye closed out the segment.Despite her ongoing allegiance to McQueen, Parker explained beforehand that her relationship with the designer was of the fashion variety. "We were not friends," she told StyleList. "I want to be very clear about that. There are people that are [his] friends. He just knew that I was a great admirer of his work."
Admiration was in no short supply for the evening, as evidenced after Biel she presented the Womenswear Designer of the Year Award to Marc Jacobs. "I don't much believe in prizes for work that I love doing and am grateful to do," he said before name-checking his entire staff in his acceptance speech. "To put this award into context, a whole is a sum of its parts."
Curious about the evening's top beauty trends? Read our exclusive report here.