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Actress/musician/entrepreneur Jennifer Lopez and renowned costume designer Bob Mackie were among those honored by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, fashion’s governing body in the U.S., on Monday evening. The 2019 CFDA Fashion Awards, which took place at New York’s Brooklyn Museum, also celebrated Mattel’s iconic Barbie doll (recipient of the Board of Directors’ Tribute award), which marks its 60th birthday this year.
Lopez was named the 2019 Fashion Icon, following in the footsteps of past honorees Rihanna, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. She arrived in a Ralph Lauren ensemble: a red jersey crop top embellished with more than 43,000 Swarovski crystals and a coordinating red silk radzimir drawstring skirt with pockets and a dramatic train and an athleisure-inspired matching jacket. “I wanted something that was sporty and had some drama and also was very me,” Lopez explained backstage after her win. “It was perfect, a crop top and a skirt in a fabric like parachute silk. It’s not a typical evening dress that I would wear.”
Fiance Alex Rodriguez paired a Harry Winston watch with a Tom Ford navy peak-lapel tuxedo. The retired Yankee slugger often wears Tom Ford, but several attendees seemed to be sporting the label in honor of the newly minted CFDA chairman — also seen wearing tuxes by Ford were Mackie and CFDA CEO Steven Kolb, while Carine Roitfeld, who took home the night’s Founder’s Award, wore a sleek black Tom Ford gown accented with hefty chains in crystal pavé.
As the 11th CFDA head, Ford officially took the reins Monday night from Diane Von Furstenberg, who has helmed the organization since 2006. “I’m literally passing the torch to him onstage,” von Furstenberg told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet (the designer was carrying a miniature Statue of Liberty torch, a symbol of her just-completed work as the fundraising chairman of the Statue of Liberty Museum, which opened May 15).
Ford and Lopez were the two names mentioned most often on the red carpet, from anticipation for how the former might evolve and transform the CFDA to an unabashed envy of the latter’s style. “Everything she does reflects her individuality, and she’s not afraid to be bold,” said Stranger Things actress Sadie Sink, wearing a floral look from Nicola Glass for Kate Spade New York. “If I could emulate anything about her, it would be the ability to be fearless in your style and embrace the ability to always try something new.”
Lopez was part of the host committee of the 2019 Met Gala alongside Bradley Cooper, Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o. She showed up to the May 6 extravaganza in a custom Atelier Versace crystal gown with Harry Winston jewelry that included a 65.32-carat purple sapphire surrounded by diamonds.
As she accepted her award Monday night, Lopez spoke about her journey from her Bronx upbringing to her love of Hollywood musicals, instilled in her by her mother, Guadalupe — “the glitz and glamour of Ava Gardner, Rita Moreno, Cyd Charisse and Marilyn Monroe,” Lopez said — through the ascendance of her career, which allowed her to access A-list designers, she said, including Oscar de la Renta, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci “and so many of you guys here tonight, people who design and allow me to get into their designs, a woman with curves like me. To say I was like a kid in a candy store is an understatement. And slowly as curves began to be embraced, the girl who wanted to combine street style with couture began to blossom, and I’m grateful to all of you for that.”
Mackie, who turned 80 on March 24, learned he would be receiving the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award when he got a call from von Furstenberg while he was staying in Palm Springs. “I said, ‘Really?’ I didn’t believe it at first that someone would give me a lifetime achievement award, because I always think of myself as 35,” he told THR on the red carpet.
With a celebrated career that includes dressing Cher, Diana Ross and creating costumes for The Carol Burnett Show, Mackie was accompanied by Bernadette Peters, who pointed out that he also sketched the legendary gown Marilyn Monroe wore when she famously sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy in 1962. Speaking of scintillating dresses, Peters drew whistles herself when she walked onstage in a curve-hugging Mackie gown of blush-tone beading. “He’s been dressing me since I was 21 years old; I don’t have to say a word, because everything he does is perfect,” the Broadway legend said. Mackie soon will receive the documentary treatment in a Matthew Miele biopic, slated for release in 2020.
With a guest list that included Diane Kruger in red Jason Wu, Yara Shahidi in Monse and Lili Reinhart in Carolina Herrera, the awards ceremony also was notable for offering a variety of touching moments. Both Roitfeld and Lady Amanda Harlech paid tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, who died Feb. 19: “His work at best was visual music, sometimes as punctuated as rap and sometimes as mysterious as Schubert,” Harlech said.
While presenting Alexander McQueen artistic director Sarah Burton with the International Award, Anna Wintour’s voice quavered as she spoke of the designer’s work for the British label, including the wedding dress that Burton crafted for the Vogue editor’s daughter, Bee Shaffer, for her 2018 wedding to Francesco Carrozzini. “Sarah will always have a special place in the hearts of my family,” Wintour said. “What she really gave us was her creativity, her time over countless fittings and her care. Sarah is famous for being hands-on; every garment that comes out of McQueen has quite literally her pins in it.”
But perhaps the night’s most poignant moment was Maxwell’s win as the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year. Maxwell, who launched his career in 2012 as Lady Gaga’s fashion director and made a splash at the Met Gala last month by creating the series of layered looks that the musician dramatically peeled off in a showstopping red carpet performance, was visibly shaken and at a loss for words as he took the stage. “I really thought this was going to be more of a viewing party for me, so I took full advantage of the free bar, and I just feel really sad to have done that now,” he joked; Maxwell’s fellow nominees included Marc Jacobs, Rosie Assoulin and Rodarte’s Laura and Kate Mulleavy.
“To the nominees in this category, you cannot imagine what it feels like to be in your company for me; it is an absolute pleasure. I am so proud to be part of an industry where we wake up every day charged with the idea that making a woman feel good, that making someone happy, is valid.” (A nice moment also occurred backstage following Maxwell’s win; Wintour and Burton were in the midst of having their photo taken following Burton’s speech, but stopped to watch Maxwell on the backstage monitor, both clearly moved by his emotion.)
Other award recipients Monday night included actress-designer sisters Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen of The Row, who took home the Accessories Designer of the Year award, while Emily Adams Bode was honored as Emerging Designer of the Year (her simply titled label, Bode, highlights one-of-a-kind pieces handcrafted from vintage textiles and has attracted a Hollywood fan base that includes Donald Glover). Meanwhile, L.A.-turned-Paris designer Rick Owens was voted as the 2019 Menswear Designer of the Year, but was unable to attend, having missed his flight.
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