NEW YORK, JAN. 11 -- The stars of the fashion industry and their devoted followers, including First Lady Nancy Reagan, assembled tonight to honor 1987 fashion award winners.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, in its seventh-annual awards ceremony, cited Calvin Klein with the council's top award for producing what it called the best American collection of the year.

Mrs. Reagan presented a special award to Brooke Astor, a leading New York philanthropist, socialite and fashion plate.

The award cited her fund-raising activities for the New York Public Library and other work.

"For those who don't know Brooke well but admire her for her charitable works and her style and her wonderful grace, let me say she's as warm and wonderful as she appears," said the first lady.

Mrs. Reagan said she has known Astor since age 14. She said Astor, widow of multimillionaire Vincent Astor and president of the Astor Foundation, and her mother were friends.

"She's unhesitating in her generosity, unfailing in her kindness, amazing in her energy," Mrs. Reagan said.

Klein received his stainless steel statuette from Grace Mirabella, editor in chief of Vogue magazine, who commended him "for exploring new avenues of American style."

"It's always so nice when your work is acknowledged," Klein said. "It's very special."

The ceremony, marking the 25th anniversary of the fashion council's founding, was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In other awards, Italian designer Giorgio Armani was honored for lifetime achievement in menswear, while Arnold Scaasi was honored for his extravagant party clothes, and Giorgio Sant'Angelo for innovations in stretch fabric.

Two young designers were recognized as well. Marc Jacobs received the Perry Ellis award for new fashion talent, and the council honored Ronaldus Shamask for his menswear designs in 1987.

Among the presenters were actress Bernadette Peters, architect Michael Graves, Paloma Picasso and columnist Liz Smith.