Quelle chance that the venerable philanthropist and socialite Jean Shafiroff invited The Observer to wine and dine at her table at the David H. Koch Theater for Fashion Institute of Technology’s 2012 Couture Council of The Museum luncheon. Despite the hefty $1,000-a-head price tag, around 600 guests, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Barbara Walters, Anna Wintour, Simon Doonan, Fe Fendi, Diane von Furstenberg, editrix and realty star Nina Garcia, Carolina Herrera, Mario Buatta, Yaz Hernandez, Martha Stewart, Dennis Basso, Ruben and Isabel Toledo, YUE editor Chiu-Ti Jansen and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, paraded uptown for the ruckus. FIT’s clout was undeniable with so many powerful New Yorkers packed into the gold-leaf foyer. Truth be told, 2012 Couture Council Artistry of Fashion honoree Oscar de la Renta certainly deserved credit for the monumental turn-out.
The festivities took place early at 11.30a.m., with the sylphlike, the supremely coiffed, and the magnificently nipped-and-tucked sloshing back glasses of rosé and chardonnay. It was a bit too early for The Observer, but we took in the self-appreciating, Fashion Week crowd with great enjoyment. Kisses and posing were promptly cut short, as the Couture Council committee and organizers ushered the aristocrats and fashion frenzy to their tables.
Then a few speeches that went largely ignored and lunch was served.
“I don’t know where this was swimming early,” grumbled one guest, poking at some nondescript white fish. “The Hudson river!” he suggested, answering his own query, “It’s a boring plate.”
Since no one exactly gobbled down the cuisine—it’s not de rigueur in these circles—the program seemed to move along swiftly.
Mayor Bloomberg, who presented Mr. de la Renta with the 2012 Artistry of Fashion Award, started with a series of well placed jokes about his fashion status to warm up the crowd, before acknowledging the legendary Mr. de la Renta.
“Oscar is more than a fashion visionary… You can’t swing a stiletto without hitting one… I’m his biggest fan,” the mayor said. “His clothes have been to more award shows than Meryl Streep.”
After a standing ovation, the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award winner took the stage to accept his award from the mayor.
“I live in the best city, in the best country,” began Mr. de la Renta.
“I’m so proud to be here today with so many of my friends who have been important to my career. I love what I do.”
The 80-year-old designer who left his native Dominican Republic to study in Spain, has held leading roles at Balenciaga, Lanvin, Balmain and Estée Lauder, before beginning his eponymous label to critical and financial success. Today, his designs are coveted by editors, starlets and the mega-rich alike.
“Fashion is not really about what I did but what I’m doing now,” Mr. de la Renta concluded, “I’ve been at it 50 years and I’m still leaning.”
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