The Council of Fashion Designers of America and its assorted allies recently met, as is their wont, at the Concorde Lounge at the Air France terminal at Kennedy International Airport.
Held immediately prior to the fashion flock’s takeoff for the fall collections beginning Feb. 21 in London, and continuing for the next two weeks in Milan and Paris, the meeting was convened to complete some business left undone at the C.F.D.A.’s 17th annual award ceremony, held Feb. 8 at 55 Wall Street. To borrow from the colorful language of Seventh Avenue retailers, an event that was “matte jersey evening with long train.”
Topping the unfinished business was the reading of the C.F.D.A.’s first annual “State of the Fashion” statement, a 10-point doctrine for 1998 drafted and approved at a C.F.D.A. meeting in January. (At press time, a complete list of who attended this meeting was not available.)
The statement was meant to be announced at the awards ceremony immediately after the presentation of the lifetime achievement award to Geoffrey Beene, the last award handed out that night. Demi Moore, the actress who has said she will play Coco Chanel in an upcoming film, had agreed to deliver the statement with the sort of passion she reserves for these affairs, but then time ran out. Limousines were turning into pumpkins out on Wall Street, and the princes and princesses of fashion were feeling a little froggy from the thrill of it all. They wanted to go home.
As Ms. Moore was tied up in a fitting for a French accent for her Chanel role, she could not attend the C.F.D.A.’s meeting at the Concorde Lounge. Christine Baranski, who emceed the Feb. 8 awards ceremony, also could not make it. She was in a closed-door session with her manager, discussing certain recent career choices. Ms. Baranski suggested Teri Garr for the honors of reading the C.F.D.A.’s statement. Ms. Garr accepted, saying in a statement that the C.F.D.A. couldn’t have been nicer negotiators.
“So we loaded Terri’s limo with Hydrox cookies instead of Oreos,” C.F.D.A. executive director Fern Mallis said during a recent interview. “Thank God she didn’t want Manolo Blahniks.”
Trouble for C.F.D.A. organizers occurred when Ms. Garr’s limousine headed to the Concorde Lounge foremost on Ms. Garr’s mind: the one in the Catskills.
Which meant the meeting at Kennedy was hostless. Courtney Love declined to read the “State of the Fashion” statement. She hasn’t a film to promote at the moment. Merv Griffin Productions hired artist Jenny Holzer to install an electronic message board in the Concorde Lounge. In addition to broadcasting the “State of the Fashion” statement, the electronic board was programmed with buzzwords about fashion’s spring collections, now in stores. Ms. Holzer’s people were midway through their installation when Anna Wintour, wearing a Marc Jacobs cashmere sweater and slim trousers, asked Ms. Mallis to speed the plot.
“Can we please begin, Fern,” Ms. Wintour purred, snapping her copy of the Financial Times against a tabletop.
A spokesman for Donna Karan said the designer was running late. Could they please wait five minutes? There was something Ms. Karan really wanted to share with the group.
Calvin Klein did not attend the meeting.
Ralph Lauren, who received this year’s Dom Pérignon Humanitarian Leadership award from the C.F.D.A., was there to promote the latest in his line of house paint. (Paint is fashion’s new perfume.) Others spotted at the Concorde Lounge included Pauline Trigère, John Weitz, Mark Eisen, Arnold Scaasi and Linda Tripp, who is guest-editing a special issue of Cosmopolitan. Isaac Mizrahi, Anna Sui, Michael Kors, Helmut Lang, Victor Alfaro, Narciso Rodriguez, John Bartlett, Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs couldn’t make it.
“It’s weird,” Mr. Jacobs said.
The neon installation clicked on with the following flashes: “Decisions, decisions, decisions … The style pendulum waits for no one … Minimalism nyet … Fancy hair! The best red lips … Squirrel … More jewelry! … Make mama mink … Oh, so Ivy League … Clean! Simple! … Fat isn’t an issue with pills … Long Island lockjaws are the new chastity belts … A slew of sheaths … Oh, just baroque the bank and buy the goddamn dress! … Leather … Bunny Mellon is an island … Weeping chiffon’s happy tears! … New shoes … Deconstruct Vassar? Buy a pleated skirt …”
Air France stewardesses passed out headsets so the assembled could partake in audio enhancement (flute music with cash registers ringing subliminally) of the C.F.D.A.’s “State of the Fashion” statement.
The 10 points:
1. In the event of war with Iraq, don’t be too obvious with camouflage. Or cargo pants. Or adopting for the runway any of the militia looks so popular now with kids downtown.
2. Anyone who thinks Monica Lewinsky’s problems result from the pressures put on young people by an unforgiving consumer society just doesn’t get it. If Monica had been taught to shop right when she was younger, none of this would have happened. Let’s talk about shopper’s ed.
3. Monica Lewinsky is not welcome in the front row of the New York fashion shows in April. (April Fool’s! Sure she is.)
4. Why fashion? You have to get dressed, anyway.
5. Donatella Versace’s hair color is real. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
6. Gray is the new black.
7. Hillary Clinton should stand by her man, but not barefoot. That’s why there are shoe editors.
8. May “trend” and “spend” always rhyme.
9. The underlying principle of attractiveness is quite straightforward: People are genetically programmed to find attractive those features indicating that the target of their attention is healthy and fertile and possesses good genes. These good genes will be passed on to any children two parties may have together. (Source: The Times of London, Jan. 19.) Studies of other animals ranging from birds to insects show that they, too, are responding to similarly informative features, and that symmetry is one of the most potent for all.
“There’s a 10th point,” Ms. Mallis called after members of the assembly got up and began hurrying to their planes.
“Fashion people mean well. Really. We do.”