October 22, 2009
The Grill Room of The Four Seasons Restaurant was transformed from a room of power brokers to a room of style makers, Wednesday evening, as the newest class of fashion designers to be inducted into the CFDA was feted.
CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg welcomed the 31 new members by stressing the family aspect of the CFDA, “I am your mother, mentor and leader.” Stan Herman, Chair of CFDA’s Admission Committee, established members Vera Wang, Tory Burch, John Bartlett, Doo-ri Chung, Philip Crangi, Keanan Duffty, Nanette Lepore, Matt Murphy, Angel Sanchez, Rebecca Taylor and more turned out to get to know their new comrades.
An overwhelming number of these young designers are doing exactly what they set out to do. “When I was 13 or 14 years old and I saw Halston on the cover of Life magazine, that looked pretty interesting to me” said Organic’s John Patrick, and he knew he wanted to be a designer. Jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth started making Shrinky Dinks, beaded jewelry, string and crochet jewelry as a child. “Jewelry was always my passion,” she said. Hat designer Albertus Swanepoel secretly played with a doll’s head, draping it with fabrics as a child. The same with Kate Spade’s Deborah Lloyd, “Forget Ken, it was all about dressing Barbie.”
Alexander Wang let his love of fashion shine through in a fifth grade papier-mâché project. “Everyone was doing animals or houses. I did a Versace shoe.” Chris Benz styled his own outfits from an early age. “I wore a short overall with huge white sunglasses and my Cookie Monster slippers,” he said. J. Crew’s Jenna Lyons started sewing out of necessity. “I was tall and gawky and couldn’t wear any clothes off the rack. So I made my first skirt in seventh grade home ec and my friends liked it and asked me to make them skirts.“ Jason Wu learned to speak English by flipping through stacks and stacks of fashion magazines.
The Row and Elizabeth and James’ Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen bought adult-sized clothing when they were preteens and altered them to fit their small sizes. “That’s really how we got into tailoring,” Ashley said. “We always loved it.”
Other new members in attendance were Chris Benz, Kevin Carrigan, Susie Cho, Lyn Devon, Tim Hamilton, Alejandro Ingelmo, Christopher Kunz, Nicholas Kunz, Johan Lindeberg, Marcella Lindeberg, Deborah Marquit, Stefan Miljanic, Maria Pinto, Jill Platner, Lorraine Schwartz, Michael Smaldone, Simon Spurr, Koi Suwannagate, and Daiki Suzuki.