Outside Alice Tully Hall on the evening of Tuesday, June 16, a large group of models was standing immobilized on a block of stairs. Inside, the Council of Fashion Designers of America were holding their annual awards.
The organizer’s president, designer Diane von Furstenberg, stood near the entrance in a white knee-length dress, snapping photos of arrivals, which included Ashley Olsen, Blake Lively, Claire Danes, Justin Timberlake and Anna Wintour in sunglasses, with a small digital camera. “Tonight is a family affair,” she said. “We all get together and we vote for our peers and we raise money for the CFDA. It’s just a very nice affair. It’s very exciting that we are in Lincoln Center, and it’s all new.”
Even though sales are down, Ms. von Furstenberg professed optimism. “There will always be spirit of fashion; otherwise, there is no fashion,” she said. “The economy is a little hard, but then again, on the other side, we have Obama.”
Designer Marc Jacobs strolled in with fiancé Lorenzo Martone, and offered a few words on the recent radical changes in his personal style. “I like taking the time to take care of myself, which I never did before,” Mr. Jacobs said, Mr. Martone keeping a firm hand on his back. “There was a time in my life when I was super-trendy and I loved really crazy clothes; then I kind of didn’t care at all because I was working so hard and so many hours; and now I’m kind of finding the balance between working hard and also working on myself.”
What does Mr. Jacobs see for the future of fashion?
“I’m never very good about at thinking about the future,” he said. “I’m usually O.K. thinking about the present.”
Senior vice president of IMG Fashion Fern Mallis was wearing an orange dress, sweater and matching bag. “The designers are very much like ambassadors in New York,” she said, “players who help define what our city is about. Fashion is one of the marquee industries here. There is so much talent in this city. There are so many people!”
What are her predictions for fall Fashion Week?
“I expect to see what we always expect to see, which is people working their asses off,” Ms. Mallis said. “To understand who their customers are and design things that will make people absolutely, desperately want to buy something, because nobody in this room and nobody that we all work for needs one new piece of clothing. We are not in the business of selling underwear. It’s about fashion, it’s the thing that will make your life different, change you, make you feel great at a party, and will make something happen for you. It’s the magic that we’re all selling.”
Model Heidi Klum, wearing silver, walked in with designer Michael Kors, who laughed and said how his escort always likes to shorten all of her dresses.
“Glamour and feeling better about yourself when you put on the right garment—it never changes,” Mr. Kors said of these tough time. “Doesn’t matter if you’re in a boom economy or a bust economy—actually, in a recession, more than ever, you want to feel good about yourself. So maybe it’s just people are getting smarter about how they shop, maybe you are not buying things that are disposable anymore. But I think fashion is like a great meal or a great movie. What a great joy it brings.“