John Waters will not officiate your marriage, no matter how nicely you ask. “I don’t do that anymore,” he said firmly, at the after-party for the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards, held at Lincoln Center Monday night. “People expect me to write something. Besides, everybody’s in that church now!”
Mr. Waters became a legally recognized marriage celebrant of the Universal Life Church during the making of Cry-Baby, long before the Internet made ordination accessible to anyone with a wi-fi connection and $14.95. “If I’ve known you for 20 years, and it’s private, maybe I’ll do it.”
The director and author was in the unique position of accepting two awards on behalf of honorees in absentia—Johnny Depp (who was given the organization’s Fashion Icon Award) and Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo (who bagged the International Award). “Rei asked me first, so I said to Johnny, ‘You’re kidding! Rei asked me yesterday.’” Clad in an orange patterned Comme des Garçons suit jacket, Mr. Waters thus took the stage twice. “I was happy to be a double-feature for the evening.”
He had recently hitch-hiked across the country—an experience he narrates in a book tentatively titled Carsick. “I made it! It was a whole 20 rides. Nine days. It was exhilarating and terrible, both. But I never had a scary ride.” He had not hitch-hiked to the awards ceremony, but, he said, “I’m always looking for entrance ramps.”
At the awards ceremony itself, designers and celebrities sipped champagne and studiously ignored the passed trays of canapés, which included tiny slivers of steak, crudités, and sliders. The waiters began to reciprocate the crowd’s disinterest, walking their trays abruptly and scanning in vain for that lonely fashion person who is secure enough to be seen eating at a fashion event. Too abruptly for the taste of Grace Coddington, who had to tail a waiter several meters before swooping in to partake of the chicken salad bruschetta. She took one for each hand.
“I was nervous about the red-carpet thing,” admitted Suno’s Max Osterweis before the show. Suno was nominated for the Swarovski Award for emerging talent in the Womenswear category. “One does not get into this thinking that one is going to walk a red carpet and get screamed at.” (Event photographers tend to be very vocal about their particular needs.)
As it turns out, Suno didn’t win—the award instead went to Joseph Altuzarra, who mounted his first fashion show way back in 2009. Arguably the evening’s biggest award went to Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen of the Row, who were named Womenswear Designers of the Year. Billy Reid won for Menswear Designer of the Year, and Reed Krakoff took home Accessory Designer of the Year.
After the ceremony, Mr. Altuzarra emerged into the Alice Tully Hall lobby looking equal parts excited and dazed. The designer, who was born and raised in Paris, fell into a long, excited-sounding francophone conversation with Carine Roitfeld, the former editor of Vogue Paris. Ms. Roitfeld declined to chat with The Observer, but victory had put Mr. Altuzarra in an effusive mood. “I feel very happy! I’m kind of elated,” he said. “And very, very thankful.” What will the win mean for his business? “It means that tomorrow morning we have to do looks for Resort! So it doesn’t change all that much. But it changes your mindset.”
Mr. Altuzarra was about to tell us how he was going to celebrate his win when the actress Kate Bosworth, his consort for the evening, came over. “Do you want a champagne?” She took the designer by the hand. “I’m going to get you some champagne. This is what a good date does!”
“Uh, I guess I’m going to celebrate by having champagne!” Mr. Altuzarra acquiesced. The pair disappeared into the crowd with a smile.
Outside, the designer’s mother, Karen Altuzarra, was taking photos on the deserted red carpet. “I have so much fun, doing these things for Joseph,” said Ms. Altuzarra, who wore glasses with leopard-print frames. “We’re taking photos for Twitter!”
Tommy Hilfiger’s Lifetime Achievement Award was fêted with a performance from Princeton’s all-male a cappella group, The Footnotes. They were outfitted in identical red pants, white shirts, striped ties, and shawl-collared cardigans, each emblazoned with an enormous “H.” They got to keep the clothes. “That was a negotiating point in our contract,” said member Daniel Gastfriend, who is a public policy and African studies major when he’s not singing.
“We are hired to sing at a lot of parties and events, but this has been, I think, the biggest gala we’ve ever done in our time,” said Ben Barron, who studies literature and the environment. “We’ve done bar mitzvahs, we did a very awkward Sweet Sixteen party one time—”
“At an ice-cream shop,” interrupted Mr. Gastfriend.
Socialite Michelle Violy Harper sailed by in an outlandish midnight blue Christian Cota dress made largely of tulle. (The designer paused to re-arrange the fabric’s gathers over Harper’s right nipple just before they reached the event photographers.) What kind of underwear does one wear with such a dress, The Observer asked as soon as Bill Cunningham had gotten his shot?
“Seamless, skin-toned underwear,” she replied.
At the after-party, held at the Boom Boom Room, guests began to let their hair down. Marc Jacobs was there, accompanied by his Brazilian porn star boyfriend, Harry Louis. Mr. Reid was dancing. Lily Collins sailed by in a silvery dress. The blogger Garance Doré was in attendance with her boyfriend, Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist. Together they shared the CFDA’s first-ever Media Award. The two colonized a booth just above the dance floor, but when Madonna’s “Express Yourself” came on, Doré kicked off her stilettos and danced barefoot on the carpet. She grabbed one of the little brass lamps off the nearest table, and sang like a teenage girl into her hairbrush. “This is a long way from Lutherville, Maryland,” remarked John Waters.