Katharine Hepburn simply doesn't go to "big events," she told Calvin Klein on the phone this week, saying she hasn't attended an awards ceremony in 30 years. That may change tonight, if she agrees to let Klein escort her to the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards dinner at the New York Public Library.
Hepburn is one of the honorees at what has become one of the fashion industry's most important and snazziest events. Since the Coty Awards were terminated abruptly last year, the CFDA Awards have become the top honors in the fashion business. CFDA is a professional organization of select fashion designers and so the designers award their peers. Actually the designers' nominees are chosen by a group of New York fashion editors; special award winners are chosen by CFDA board members Perry Ellis, Bill Blass, Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta and Kasper.
At tonight's dinner awards will be given to designers Geoffrey Beene, Liz Claiborne, Norma Kamali, Donna Karan, Robert Lee Morris plus Ray Ban Sunglasses (for its black glasses) and "Miami Vice" (for its overall style influence). There will be a special tribute and fashion show saluting Rudi Gernreich, the revolutionary and highly influential designer who died last year, a special award to "Tango Argentina" and CFDA Lifetime Achievement Awards Hepburn and Vogue Editorial Director Alexander Liberman.
"Katharine Hepburn established American style long before designers were doing these things," said Ellis, president of CFDA. "American style is sportswear and she has made that her trademark: [by wearing] men's trousers, shirts, socks and loafers. Those things we rave about today she has done a long time," added Ellis.