Tipsy Turvy

At Monday's CFDA Fashion Awards, the problem wasn't the heat, it was the humorless jokes that trickled from the stage like flat tap water.

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Zac Posen and Sean Combs

Photo By WWD Staff

NEW YORK — Note to CFDA: fire the scriptwriters.

At Monday's 2005 CFDA Fashion Awards, it wasn't the heat, the less-than-stellar wine or the overpowering steak au poivre that wore the audience down. Instead, it was the lackluster jokes rattling down the teleprompter that were often as flat as a blown-out tire.

From the tipsy to the obtuse to the touching, the night's winners generally kept their speeches crisp and to the point — sometimes so much so that they literally were on and off the stage before you could blink an eye. But the presenters were a different story. Many struggled to read their lines from the teleprompter perched high on a wall across the room from the podium, and those who squinted and stumbled for the most part shouldn't have bothered. Case in point: Heidi Klum, who in irritating fashion used her signature Project Runway phrase 'You're either in or you're out' to confusingly describe each women's wear nominee. Or Donna Karan and Sean Combs, who announced Swarovski's Perry Ellis Award nominees, but should have checked with German native Klum on how to pronounce the Austrian crystal firm's name before going on stage.

"Sra-owski, Swo-ki-skeee," Combs blundered.

Catherine Deneuve, who presented Elle's Gilles Bensimon with the Eugenia Sheppard Award, proved that a great actress does not make a great public speaker. Deneuve, not one to ad-lib, struggled to read the teleprompter and seemed lost at one point. "I am sorry, Gilles," she said. "I could have done better, but I am confused."

Kate Moss, for her part, offered one of the evening's most succinct speeches. Leaning on the podium and grasping her statue, she whispered: "I'd like to thank the CFDA for this award, and all the people I have had the chance to work with." Then she was off.

All this isn't to say the night didn't have the ingredients for a hit. The carpeted foyer of the New York Public Library minimized dangers of slipping after the rain storm; the massive Studio Job-designed crystal frame with livestream coverage of red-carpet arrivals gave the transfixed fashion folk much reason for ice-breaking chatter (including watching Anna Wintour barrel up the red carpet like it was a 50-yard dash), and the decor of red tables, fabric-covered chairs and steamy red lighting gave the Celeste Bartos Forum a lounge-like feel.
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