The CFDA is often likened to an adult sorority or finals club, sans the cheap beer and hazing. Instead, new members are welcomed with a lavish cocktail party, typically hosted by one of the CFDA's senior board members. This year, it was Vera Wang's turn to hold court at her 740 Park Avenue duplex. The famed building, often considered the gold standard of Park Avenue, is well-known for its grandly proportioned rooms. Each room could be a ballroom, and is a throwback to the days before apartments got divided into "classic" 6, 7, or 8 room units. Not too shabby, but you haven't really seen a Park Avenue apartment until you visit 740.
For Wednesday night's event, Ms. Wang cleared out most of the furniture of the first floor of her apartment, installed open bars in several rooms, and blasted some dance worthy music, essentially turning her grande apartment into "a banquet hall," she joked. Accordingly, there was more than enough room to accommodate the 26 members, not to mention what Wang approximated to be a total of 300 guests who stopped by (and did their share of gawking, no doubt) at some point during the evening.
Among the new members feted that night were Robert Geller, Bibhu Mohapatra, Lubov Azria, Waris Ahluwalia, Pamella Roland, Kimberly McDonald, Rebecca Minkoff, L'Wren Scott, and Ann Taylor Creative Director Lisa Axelson, who just showed her latest collection at the Gramercy Park Hotel to rave reviews from celebrities and a slew of top editors.
"It's an impressive and particularly diverse bunch this year," said CFDA executive director Steven Kolb, adding that "a more diverse family makes for a more dynamic family." Karen Erickson (of Erickson Beamon), for example, worked with her partner Vicki Beamon on their jewelry collection for over two decades before she decided to take the leap into membership, with more than a little encouragement from her daughter, Mandie ("we like to deliberate," Karen told me). Others, like Sang A Im-Propp, a former performer, cannot believe how far she has come within a relatively short period of time. And then you have new member Sophie Theallet, the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund winner for 2009, who remarked how "gratifying it is to have the support of a group that I really believe in." The fashion world is seemingly an industry that never sleeps, yet in spite of - or perhaps because of that - its members consistently place camaraderie at a premium. And when your new family members welcome you with parties at some of the most impressive digs in all of New York, really, who wouldn't want to join?