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NEW YORK – Amid sleek black tie fare and voluminous gowns, a giant walrus watched on while a 94-foot-long blue whale floated overhead. No, it wasn’t a fever dream, but a night at the museum for the 61st annual CFDA Fashion Awards.

A-list celebrities and the fashion elite ventured to uptown Manhattan on Monday night to the American Museum of Natural History for the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s annual event, likened to the Oscars of American fashion.

“Through fashion, we truly have the opportunity to paint our own tapestry and share our unique perspectives with the world,” said Serena Williams, who earned the night’s fashion icon award presented to her by friend Kim Kardashian. Williams, who wore custom Thom Browne for the occasion, recalled “reimagining the traditional tennis outfits” with “skirts out of denim, and I wore purple tutus and bodysuits and knee-high boots and put beads in my hair and braids.”

I stand here with you all today, not just as an athlete, but as someone who has personally experienced the extraordinary power of fashion,” said the tennis great and S by Serena creator.The 2023 event − hosted by Anne Hathaway (who stepped in after original host Sarah Jessica Parker was “unable to due to unforeseen circumstances”) − focused on womenswear, menswear, accessories and emerging talent amid other achievement awards.

And though the crowd wasn’t treated to an onstage moment, “The Devil Wears Prada” actress and the inspiration for the movie’s Miranda Priestly character, Vogue’s Anna Wintour, breathed the same air in the room