Alexander the Great
The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund celebrated its fifth anniversary at Skylight Studios on Monday night at a moment when its five- and six-figure prizes mean more to fledgling designers than ever. Fittingly, work—and plenty of it—was the theme of the evening. Without it, Narciso Rodriguez said at the cocktail hour, he never would have gotten to the point where Michelle Obama wore his dress to the election-night rally in Chicago. "Resilience helps, too," he noted. And after dinner in a keynote speech that touched upon everything from his Central Saint Martins graduation collection to the support of Anna Wintour and the "American fashion bible, Vogue" to his first meeting with LVMH's Bernard Arnault, John Galliano—in top hat, vest, and pearly pants—admonished, "If you want easy, don't pick fashion." The crowd must have contained plenty of workaholics, because they were quickly on their feet to applaud him.
After his standing O, Charlize Theron joined Galliano on stage to reveal the evening's winners. Vena Cava's Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock, who were finalists for the second year in a row, and the milliner Albertus Swanepoel took the $50,000 runners-up prizes. "He's the guy working in the background making things happen for other people," said Lazaro Hernandez, who has successfully collaborated with Swanepoel on Proenza Schouler collections. "I'm so happy it happened for him, he really deserves it." The fund's top prize, $200,000 and a year's worth of mentoring, went to Alexander Wang. "Four years ago I was reading about this award in my dorm room in a magazine," said the 24-year-old, smiling through his tears. As his date, Alice Dellal, dragged him outside for a cigarette, Wang said he thought he deserved a night off. And why not? Fun and youthful exuberance are as much a part of fashion as hard work, or as Wang put it: "I'm going to call up all my friends, order a pizza, and go dance my ass off."