The fifth time's the charm for the Sean John designer at Monday's "fashion Oscars"

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated June 08, 2004 08:00 AM

A Tony may have eluded him for his performance in Broadway’s A Raisin in the Sun, but Sean “P. Diddy” Combs got the top award Monday night from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, whose prizes are generally considered the fashion industry’s Oscars.

After four previous nominations, the mogul was named menswear designer of the year for his Sean John collection – over such veterans and earlier winners Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors, reports the Associated Press.

“I’m very happy as you can see,” said Combs, 33, who, wearing a white tux, danced his way up to the podium at the New York Public Library. “I’ve had some things I’ve had on my mind for a few years.” He also mentioned that years ago he stood in the Ralph Lauren store “saving my pennies” for a new Polo shirt. “I am living the American dream.”

He then declared: “Ralph, you’re still the sexiest man on the planet!”

Carolina Herrera was honored as womenswear designer of the year, while Reed Krakoff, Coach’s president and executive creative director, took honors for top accessories designer.

Sarah Jessica Parker was toasted as this year’s “fashion icon,” following in the Manolo Blahnik footsteps of Nicole Kidman and the late society icon C.Z. Guest. Presenting Parker (wearing a hot pink and black lace vintage halter dress by the late Hollywood costumer Howard Greer) with her award, Isaac Mizrahi gushed: “I think they made up this award just in case she (Parker) came along.”

The former “Sex and the City” star, 39, said she was “thrilled” and confessed to a crowd that included Martha Stewart (who accompanied womenswear nominee Ralph Rucci): “Fashion is my fatal flaw. It’s my weakness. Sometimes you see something you want and you can’t have it, but in my case … ” she trailed off to laughter from the crowd.

Fashion plate Susan Sarandon wore a full-length magenta gown with a lace overlay to present designer Donna Karan with her lifetime achievement award. “Donna’s clothes don’t wear you, they embrace you,” Sarandon, 57, said.