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UP WITH DESIGN: The National Design Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street on Thursday night was first and foremost a feast for the eyes. Many guests gaped at the spools of ribbon suspended from the 60-foot ceilings and wondered how David Stark pulled off such a spectacle. They unwittingly reflected the evening’s theme of making design part of the public vernacular, which was mentioned repeatedly by award winners. Cynthia Rowley and fashion award runner-up Behnaz Sarafpour helped up the fashion ante, as did Lifetime Achievement winner Jane Thompson, who recalled how her late husband Ben arranged for Marimekko’s international debut at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. Interior Design winner William Sofield is at work on Tom Ford’s upcoming Rodeo Drive store, and Harry Winston’s Las Vegas boutique as well as the remodeling of its Fifth Avenue flagship.
Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy, this year’s fashion award winners, were also faintly nostalgic, thanking those who believed in their inaugural effort five years ago. Laura Mulleavy said later, “What’s so nice about this is we’re being honored by people who are interested in design in so many different ways. You know, we’re always in our minds and in our showrooms [doing what we do]. It’s good to think of design as a larger discipline.” Rodarte’s airy creations will soon appear in a feature film, “Black Swan,” the ballet drama starring pal Natalie Portman. That connection and their friendship with choreographer Benjamin Millepied lead them to suit up dancers in the Dutch National Ballet. But Thursday’s gala forced the sisters to sit out Friday’s world premiere in Amsterdam — you can’t dance at every party.