The starlet presenters this year still sparkled and smiled, but they did not seem to shine as brightly as they have in the past.
Rosen’s flagship is Theory, youthful sportswear for professional women that has been given an injection of fashion by Olivier Theyskens. But Rosen also has invested in other brands, such as Proenza Schouler and Rag & Bone. He also serves as a business mentor through the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.
Hilfiger has built one of the largest American fashion brands, but he was not always embraced by the industry. For years there was a perception within the more rarified parts of the American fashion world that Hilfiger was too mass. Too commercial. Too much. But success made a believer out of his critics. But his lifetime achievement award, presented by Vogue’s Anna Wintour, was less about his designs and more about what goes on off the runway. He has been a longstanding supporter of the Fresh Air Fund. He was a key fundraiser for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. And he underwrote the Americans in Paris showroom, which allowed young Seventh Avenue designers to introduce their work to an international audience.
Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons—fashion’s woman of mystery and riddles—received the international award. Director John Waters, who dedicated a chapter of his book Role Models to rhapsodizing about her work, accepted on her behalf. He also appeared on behalf of Depp, who was the first man to be declared a fashion icon by the CFDA. One wishes Waters could be the designated speechmaker for the CFDA awards, as his ability to exquisitely describe the maddening illogic of Kawakubo and the stylish sloth of Depp is wickedly funny and blissfully unvarnished.
The Swarovski Awards, which honor new designers, went to Phillip Lim for menswear, Tabitha Simmons for her footwear, and Joseph Altuzarra for women’s wear. And the media award went to bloggers and photographers Garance Dore and Scott Schuman, who both democratized and exalted street style.
This wasn’t the year that celebrated brash showmanship or the power of celebrity. Instead, the CFDA, marking its 50th anniversary, honored its industry and the reality of how it works.

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