Clinton received a standing ovation at the Lincoln Center ceremony before she presented the CFDA's highest honour, its Founder's Award, to Oscar de la Renta, whom she called "a dear friend." She recounted first meeting him as first lady in 1993 during a White House receiving line for a Kennedy Center event.
De la Renta came up to her and said, "that's one of my dresses," Clinton recalled. She added, "He looked me up and down." That had the audience giggling.
The designer joined her on stage and said, "She might not like me to say this, but I think she's going to be our next president."
That line received enthusiastic applause.
There was a running joke between Clinton and the show's host, Andy Cohen, about the former secretary of state pitching a pilot to Bravo called "Project Pantsuit" — referring to a favourite part of her wardrobe.
Cohen also riffed on the popular online parodies called "Texts from Hillary." One showed Vera Wang asking Clinton, "How do I change up my look?" Her response: "Same thing I told 'Chelle: bangs," referring to Michelle Obama's hairdo that caused much buzz earlier this year during President Barack Obama's inauguration.
A bit of a more serious political undertone came during CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg's speech as she pledged to pursue more manufacturing in the U.S.
The other honoree to get the country's top designers and their celebrity and model friends on their feet was Wang, who received the CFDA lifetime achievement award from her former boss Ralph Lauren.
"To all the women and men I have dressed, thank you for your trust," she said.
The annual award show draws a mix of the fashion world and Hollywood: Jessica Chastain presented the international award to Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy; a Thakoon-clad Rose Byrne handed Lim his trophy; "Downton Abbey's" Dan Steven called out Browne's name; and Kerry Washington gave the prize to Proenza's Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez. (Washington pulled off a diplomatic move, wearing a yellow, square-neck gown by Jason Wu, who wasn't nominated this year in the womenswear category, since she didn't know which designer name would be inside her envelope.)
Hailee Steinfeld, wearing a two-piece, crystal-covered Suno ensemble, and Douglas Booth, stars of the upcoming film "Romeo & Juliet," announced the winners of the Swarovski emerging talent awards, including Erin Beatty and Max Osterweis of Suno, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School, and Pamela Love.
It has become a tradition for many designers to bring as their dates actresses and models who wear their clothes like the paparazzi pros they are. This year, Calvin Klein's Francisco Costa brought Rooney Mara, who wore a black, laser-cut dress; Michael Kors came with Karolina Kurkova, who wore a sparkly silver shorts set; and Alexander Wang walked in with Erin Wasson, who wore a geometric white gown with sheer panels.
Sofia Vergara attended with jeweler Lorraine Schwartz. Vergara had on a chunky emerald and diamond necklace that complemented her green Herve L. Leroux gown.
Linda Evangelista, however, made her own grand entrance. She chose a black strapless gown by de la Renta.
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