Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Stan’s Sweet ‘16’


Stan Herman

To say last night’s party given by the CFDA and FEDEX to commemorate Stan Herman’s record breaking 16 years as President of the CFDA, was a Who’s Who of fashion (through the years up to the present time), is an understatement. Hundreds of fashion swells congregated at 583 Park Avenue (www.583parkave.com), a refurbished grand church which is now being used for parties and events, to sip champagne and nibble on everything from cheese delicates to grilled shrimp on a skewer, to pay their respects and say thanks to Stan Herman. The crowd that turned out was a testament to the man’s popularity and indeed, in a world that is not normally associated with words like ‘down to earth’, ‘friendly’, ‘unpretentious’, he is a rarity. This is the end of an era for sure. (By the way, the venue is so accommodating and attractive, I couldn’t help but think that it would make a great show venue).

For me, having been in this business for so many years, the party was also like a reunion of sorts, since I saw faces I haven’t seen for years (Betty Ann Grund, a former senior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, Ron Leal, a once popular fashion designer who is now “retired”, John Anthony, who is anything but retired and still continues his couture business on 57th Street (and who hardly minces words, saying that in his opinion, the sole purpose of the CFDA should be to “support the designers”).


Past CFDA President Mary McFadden

Seemingly, everyone who was anyone was there. Members of the press (Robin Givhan, Marylou Luther, Glenda Bailey, Teri Agins, W’s Bridget Foley), pr mavens James LaForce of LaForce & Stevens, Owen Davidson of AO Production, Ruth Finley and Deborah Brumfield of Fashion Calendar, Ty Yorio of Citadel Security, IMG's Fern Mallis, and industry legends like Ralph Lauren (one of the first to arrive AND to leave), Stephen Burrows (and posse), Kenneth Richard, Rachel and Robert Danes (with their new baby daughter), Arnold Scaasi, Mary Ann Restivo, Mary McFadden (a past president of the CFDA), Diane Von Furstenberg (the incoming President) mixed and mingled with the ‘new guard’: Ralph Rucci, Vera Wang, Gilles Mendel, Cynthia Rowley, Doo.Ri Chung, Kate and Laura Mulleavy (the sisters who design Rodarte). By the way, the latter two made the trip from their home in California to attend Thursday’s Vogue/CFDA Awards dinner and they told me they are feeling far more confident and coming into their own as they head into the next season. When I asked if they could tell me what they are thinking about for fall (which will be unveiled in February during New York Fashion Week), Laura said they are superstitious so they make it a point of not talking about their future collections.


Robin Givhan of The Washington Post (left)

A little less than 45 minutes into the two and a half hour event, Vera Wang (who is very close to Stan) stepped up to the stage and took the microphone, announcing that she was the one elected to give a little speech. She observed that Stan’s 16 year milestone has to be seen in the context of fashion, and likened it to Dog Years (“that’s a lifetime!” she explained). She thanked her good friend for a “job well done” made possible because of his “lifelong love of fashion”. She talked about his legacy and accomplishments (“promoting American fashion and American designers”, “steering the CFDA towards a more democratic organization which embraced new talent”) and then personalized it. Vera said that “Stan has been a true supporter and friend”. He’s sat through ALL my shows no matter when they were or where they were”.

In conclusion, she said “We look forward to the tenure of Diane Von Furstenberg. Congratulations not only on your birthday but on this enormous achievement. I love you very much.” Then an executive from FEDEX (Stan has been designing the company’s uniforms for the past 25 years) took the stage, thanked Stan and announced that a gift of $100,000 was being donated to the CFDA in Stan’s name.

At which point Diane Von Furstenberg stepped up and asked “Why is FEDEX here? Fed Ex is Everywhere! Where would be without them?” She spoke of Stan’s “loving, caring” nature (“He’s in love with life and that’s why he looks so good”). She recalled how Stan initially got her into the committee to select a president. “When I couldn’t find one, I offered myself”. “I look forward to being President. I hope I can bring it to the next phase. I don’t take it lightly. I will need Stan to watch over me and help me”. She then proceeded to leave the podium but then quickly remembered one important thing -- Stan. She almost forgot to introduce the Man of the Hour!

When Stan stood before the crowd, he was visibly emotional and overwhelmed as he announced that his 102 year old father was there for the occasion (unbelievable; talk about all in the genes). He spoke of his wonderful long lasting relationship with FEDEX for the past 25 years and thanked everyone he’s worked with at the CFDA. He acknowledged, “So many friends from my past are there tonight and hopefully so many will be in my future. I’m not retiring to Boca Raton. Why Would I? It doesn’t’ get any better than this!”

Speaking of retirement and Florida, Joan Kaner (one of the guests last night) is happily retired and happily going to her home in Sarasota (for the winter months) at the end of the week. She looks forward to it and said it’s in the 80’s and the weather is perfect. Of course I didn’t want to point out that it’s almost that warm here although that is bound to change quickly.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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