Francisco Costa, Tom Ford and Tory Burch were the big winners at Monday night's Council of Fashion Designer of America awards, the industry's top honor.
Costa, designer for Calvin Klein, was beckoned to the podium by actress Eva Mendes, who had presented the prize alongside Victoria Beckham and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Each seemed to be a cheerleader for her favorite designer _ Mendes in a sleek white gown for Costa, Beckham in a short, pouffy minidress for Marc Jacobs and Gyllenhaal in a green-and-black checkerboard tunic for Proenza Schouler.
"I sincerely appreciate all your help," Costa told the editors, stylists and retailers who for the second time voted him the best womenswear designer.
The CFDA awards, marking their 26th year, have come to be an intersection of celebrities and fashion insiders, causing a major traffic jam outside the landmark New York Public Library where the ceremony is held. Eva Longoria Parker, Tony Parker, Kim Cattrall, Mandy Moore, Lauren Hutton, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Hilary Duff were among those mingling with the likes of Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Vera Wang and Carolina Herrera.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg attended _ but not as a guest. He received his own award from the CFDA Board of Directors for his commitment to keeping the city's garment industry thriving.
He mused about receiving an honor that in previous years has gone to Ford, Oleg Cassini and Bono. "Who would've thunk it?" he asked the crowd that had risen for a standing ovation.
Bloomberg, in a lilac-colored bow tie, also joked that he would have worn something more stylish, but "my skinny jeans are at the cleaners and my gladiator sandals are being resoled."
He then proudly reported that 800 fashion companies are based in New York, double that of its nearest competitor, Paris.
Parisian designer Yves Saint Laurent, who died Sunday of brain cancer at age 71, was on the mind of many in the fashion community. CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg, wearing a vintage YSL tuxedo-style pantsuit, opened the ceremony with a tribute.
"Yves was an artist who always surprised us," she said of her longtime friend. "He used to say he wanted to be Matisse, but I think Matisse would have wanted to be him."
The emcee of night, humorist Fran Lebowitz, wore a cream-colored tuxedo jacket made by her favorite tailors in London. She often wears menswear-style jackets but never ties, she said.
"I believe a woman, when she gets dressed for the evening, she should leave at least one thing to the imagination," she deadpanned.
When Ford accepted his award as menswear designer of the year, he said that despite the other accolades he received during his tenure at Gucci, he couldn't feel jaded toward an award bestowed upon him by his peers, particularly for his relatively new namesake collection.
"I didn't expect to be here. I'm so happy to be here," he said.
Burch, whose signature ballet flats with a round metallic ornament have become a staple of tastemakers, said her win was "surreal." A first-time nominee, she beat out industry veterans Michael Kors and Jacobs in the accessories category.
"I feel so privileged to be a part of this industry," she said.
Meanwhile Carolina Herrera, in a chic white pantsuit, was even more magnanimous in accepting her lifetime achievement award: "Thank you New York for opening up your arms to me. I love you all."