Who's on Von Furstenberg? Power Matrons Pick Up Plaques, Peck at Parfaits With Padma

On the afternoon of Monday, April 7, the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria filled with the clicking of heels and an array of expensive scents as the New York Women in Communications presented their Matrix Awards, this year honoring Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, Gourmet editor in chief Ruth Reichl, and Disney-ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney.

Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi was emcee for the luncheon and was called to the podium so suddenly that she had to begin her opening speech with a mouthful of grilled chicken salad. In fact, Ms. Lakshmi was one of the few ladies seated onstage that dared to eat in front of an audience of more than a thousand women—Oprah pal Gayle King and rehabilitated morning-show host Kathie Lee Gifford among them—picking at lemon parfaits.

Designer Diane Von Furstenberg was presented with a special lifetime achievement award by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, who applauded Ms. Von Furstenberg for encouraging women to wear dresses in the workplace and then timidly admitted that she herself has not managed this sartorial feat. “How to look good in a dress?” she asked the audience, eliciting laughs.

And how did Ms. Von Furstenberg and her husband, mega-mogul Barry Diller, react to his recent court victory over Liberty Media chairman John Malone? “We celebrated with a long swim in the Caribbean!” she told the Transom, “I never doubted that he would win; the whole thing was a little bit of a waste of time.”

Actor Bill Irwin presented an award to playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith, whose work he called a “YouTube of the soul” and whose husband he plays “in a soon-to-be neglected indie film,” Dancing With Shiva.

Ms. Reichl was given her award by chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, who told the Transom that he has not been directly hit by the recession. “I still eat and drink well!”

Injured ABC correspondent Bob Woodruff, a presenter to Ms. Sweeney, said that he’s been busy getting back to journalism. “I’m kind of addicted to it, just waiting for my brain to recover,” he said. “Although my wife has ordered me not to go back to Iraq.”

Onstage, Mr. Woodruff admitted that for a while he called Ms. Sweeney, “Anne Sweetey,” until his wife kindly corrected him.

“Bob,” said Ms. Sweeney coyly, taking the podium, “you can call me anything you want.”