Oscar de la Renta turned to fashion, he was the proprietor of a hot Parisian nightclub, Le Sexy J'adore. At least, that was the tall tale that Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys New York, told Thursday night, Oct. 22, as host of Fashion Group International's annual Night of Stars. Weaving in lurid scenes that included the various honorees, from Michael Kors as "bouncer" to Gucci's Frida Giannini, who "found the naughtiest, chicest gals in the Western Hemisphere," Doonan spun a hilarious, "Mad Libs"-like yarn that set a rollicking tone for the evening's ceremony, titled "The Storytellers."
"I think all forms of art tell a story, or state an opinion, but I think fashion is the art form that touches us the most right now," said actress Emmy Rossum, wearing a gold twist goddess gown by Donna Karan, ruminating on fashion's storytelling power. "I mean, you wear it everyday, and we're constantly bombarded by images and you can use it to show how we feel about life and ourselves and what image we want to project to the world. It's the first thing people see, what you're wearing."
Each year, Night of Stars gives out accolades to the top guns in design, from fashion to architecture to beauty. Oscar de la Renta, whose career has spanned the past six decades, took home the "Super Star" award last night, while fashion designers Michael Kors and Frida Giannini, hat designer Stephen Jones and jewelry designer Victoire de Castellane, known for her baubles for Dior, all were "Star Honorees."
"I couldn't be happier that I was asked to present this award to Oscar this season, because I really did love his collection this time," said Grace Coddington, creative director at Vogue, who co-presented the award to de la Renta with another Vogue editor, Hamish Bowles. "He's surprisingly young, even though he's not so young. I hope to see young people in his clothes, because I felt that he really looked at that and he was up there with all the other young designers. A lot of people, when they get older, they sort of fade a bit. But not him."
Other award recipients included Renzo Rosso of Diesel for "Corporate Leadership," Kenneth Cole for the "Humanitarian Award," Clodagh in architecture, Paula Wallace of Savannah College of Art and Design for "Sustainability" and Catherine Walsh in beauty. Television station Bravo took home the Lord & Taylor Fashion Oracle Award.
After bites of lobster tail and mushroom risotto, the crowd's attention turned toward presenters like burlesque performer Dita Von Teese, who said she was in disbelief "that they actually let me speak," when she presented the award to Stephen Jones, wearing one of his hat creations.
Presenters and honorees gushed back and forth in their speeches in an impromptu mutual appreciation society, though often somewhat confusedly - "He's more generous with his words than he is with his deeds," said Cole to his presenter and friend Jon Bon Jovi, who had just rattled off Cole's lifetime of humanitarian achievements such as his work with Amfar, an AIDS charity.
Hip-hop singer Mary J. Blige, who co-presented the award to Giannini with actor James Franco, said, "I'm not going to stand up here and pretend that I've known Frida all my life. But I've been a Gucci girl for as long as I can remember."
Earlier that day, Giannini and Blige officially opened the first Mary J. Blige Center for Women in Yonkers, N.Y., which Gucci helped underwrite.
In his introduction to de la Renta, Hamish Bowles noted that he was a "champion domino player" and a "crooner with the honey voice that filled the air on Fashion's Night Out," while Grace Coddington simply stated, "Oscar, you're totally awesome. What else can I say?"
"I have to thank you all because I've been having a wonderful, extraordinary time," said de la Renta in his acceptance speech. "I've had the opportunity to do what I love most, doing for women the best that I can."