Membership Has Its Privileges
A tissue-wrapped certificate, a boutonniere, and a single degree of separation from just about every big player in the U.S. fashion industry: Such are the spoils of CFDA membership, and 31 designers enjoyed them for the first time last night at a reception for new members at Manhattan's Four Seasons Restaurant.
Albertus Swanepoel, for one, was grateful for the recognition. "It's a dream. This night has been on my calendar for a long time," the South African-born designer enthused. He also estimated that he was, at 50, the oldest new member in the room: "I'm a late bloomer, what can I say?" Alexander Wang, a designer from the other end of the age spectrum, countered with a dash of youthful insouciance: "I've already felt like I was part of the family. Now it's like, yeah, you have that piece of whatever it is that actually solidifies it," he said. Ashley Olsen, perhaps inspired by that afternoon's Garment Center rally, struck an activist note. "I'm excited about hopefully being able to get involved in a much more intimate way with the garment industry," she explained. "All the factories are either shrinking tremendously or closing down, and we need to bring them back."
Chatting with new member Susie Cho, Philip Crangi joked about hazing rituals. "If it's painful, I'll call you later," Cho warned. "It'll be too late by then," Crangi said, then shifted into a more serious gear. "I always saw myself as an outsider, and then you realize everybody feels that way," he noted. "Once you're on the inside, everybody's actually really supportive."