February 24, 1999 12:00 AM

Fashion held its own Oscar ceremony last night, at the 18th annual Fashion Designers of America awards ceremony. Showing up at the $1,500-a-plate dinner, held at Manhattan’s 25th St. Armory, were such well-dressed celebrities as Elizabeth Hurley and Hugh Grant, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, Claire Danes, Julianna Margulies, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sarah McLachlan, Rita Wilson, Bette Midler, Yoko Ono, Donatella Versace, Chris Rock, Martha Stewart, Faith Hill, Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Vera Wang, Pamela Dennis, Randolph Duke, Yohji Yamamoto, Betsey Johnson, Marc Jacobs, Simon Doonan, David Blaine, Russell Simmons, Esther Canadas, Mark Vanderloo, Amber Valetta, Heidi Klum, Bridget Hall and Bob Mackie, who picked up an award for Cher — who was honored for her influence on fashion. All of the stars and designers who attended the gala braved New York’s early summer heat and humidity, causing PEOPLE’s Natasha Stoynoff to call them “sweaty but well-dressed fashion victims.”

  • One delight of the evening, reports PEOPLE’s Sue Miller, came during the presentation of the Womenswear Designer of the Year Award to Michael Kors. After Anjelica Huston called him to the podium, the designer (who waited 18 years to be honored) asked, “Where is my award?” Out walked surprise guest Susan Lucci, who recently was awarded an Emmy — after 19 years of waiting. “I was starting to feel like Susan Lucci there,” joked Kors.

  • Among other winners was CNN’s Elsa Klensch, who received an award for bringing fashion to TV, while the usually reclusive Yves Saint Laurent, in a rare appearance, received a Lifetime Achievement Award. The late Harpers Bazaar editor Liz Tilberis received a posthumous Humanitarian Award.

  • “I never wear designer things,” Hugh Grant told PEOPLE. “But I’m a great supporter of women’s fashion. I like to actually wear women’s fashion.” He wore a dapper tuxedo to the event.

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