Before Diane von Furstenberg announced this year’s CFDA nominees at a cocktail reception at the rooftop gardens at Rockefeller Center on Monday, March 16, she wanted to welcome the designers, editors and publicists back from Paris.
“It’s good to see American designers sticking together,” she said, surveying the room. “We’re going to surf this tsunami!”
As the nominees were announced—Marc Jacobs, Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte and Narciso Rodriguez for Womenswear Designer of the Year; Michael Bastian, Scott Sternberg of Band of Outsiders and Italo Zucchelli of Calvin Klein for Menswear—Vogue’s Anna Wintour and designer Carolina Herrera were huddled together near the podium. “I have to make sure not to lose this!” Ms. Herrera whispered to Ms. Wintour, slipping a sealed envelope with nominees’ names into the pocket of her pantsuit.
“The great thing about the CFDA is that it really increases competition, and competition makes the world go round,” said Nadja Swarovski, the vice president of Swarovski Crystal (which sponsors the awards), after the ceremony. “It makes a good product, and that’s good news for the industry.”
With the twice-yearly voyage from New York to London to Milan to Paris finally over, the CFDA nomination announcements were a reunion of sorts on home soil. But they seemed to also inspire some anxiety.
“I’m just so out of it,” said the designer Phillip Lim, who was hanging out by the entrance rather than diving into the group mingle in the main room. “Collections are due again and it feels like the next shows are around the corner. After my show, I hid out in my apartment for a day and a half, just walking my dog and watching lots of reality TV.” (To de-stressify, Mr. Lim tuned into Project Runway and Top Chef.)
Anna Sui, who received the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, looked startled after the ceremony.
“Am I being punked?” she asked as the nearby bystanders broke into flattering laughter. After her show, Ms. Sui took a few days to go see her parents in Michigan before coming back to New York to start working again. “Next season seems to be coming up right away. There is just no time!”
But CFDA board member Isabel Toledo was in a cheerful mood, especially now that her two-minute speaking gig announcing a few of the nominees was over.
“I’m just so glad it’s over!” said Ms. Toledo, who has a fear of public speaking. “I always say that I didn’t really speak until I was 15!”
As for this year’s nominees, “the pressure is not on yet, so it is like a reunion here today,” she said. “You can tell everyone is happy to be here and they’re not competing just yet.”