OnlyOnAOL: The night Rihanna changed fashion as we know it

Isaac Mizrahi On "Project Runway All Stars"
Isaac Mizrahi On "Project Runway All Stars"

By: Donna Freydkin

Three guesses as to who unzipped the sheer-gown trend.

Not Beyonce. Not Jennifer Lopez. But Rihanna, when she was named the year's fashion icon at the 2014 CFDA awards. Her barely-there Swarovski crystal-embellished Adam Selman frock crashed the Internet and left fashion watchers both shocked and impressed in equal measure.

"When Rihanna came that year, we had no idea what she would wear. We still get clips from that night. That whole nude look started there with Rihanna. That was pretty powerful," says Steven Kolb, president and CEO of the CFDA. (Watch our interview with 1991 womenswear designer of the year winner Isaac Mizrahi above).

Previous fashion icons include Lady Gaga, Pharrell, Kate Moss and Iman.

See more: OnlyOnAOL: Zac Posen spills on fashion's biggest night

This year's event, taking place Monday at Hammerstein Ballroom, "is a big night for the industry. Not only because we're recognizing top talent from the past two seasons and honoring people whose careers have impacted the industry. But it's a bit of a family reunion. It's a fun start to summer, really. It's a bit of a chance to hang out and get together."

2014 CFDA Fashion Awards - Arrivals
2014 CFDA Fashion Awards - Arrivals

Past winners include The Row, Thom Browne, Tom Binns and Tom Ford. "There's validation that what you're doing is legitimate and respected. There's a sense of that when you win the CFDA award. It's about the collections," says Kolb.

So what to expect this year? Food, for starters. In past years, the event, held at Lincoln Center, featured cocktails galore, and minimal nibbles.

"This year we've switched venues. We are having a sit-down dinner, which we haven't had for over five years. People became nostalgic and missed the chance to socialize more. That's when we decided to go to Hammerstein. It's the original opera house of New York City. It's a grand theater with a proper stage," says Kolb.

2015 CFDA Fashion Awards - Show
2015 CFDA Fashion Awards - Show

Plus, there will be ample entertainment. And we'll hear a lot more from sharp-tongued emcee Joel McHale.

"This year, we have two performances, Michael C. Hall doing a tribute to David Bowie and Jennifer Hudson is performing as well. You'll see more of the host throughout the night this year," says Kolb. "It's a fresh redo of what we've done in the past."

2011 CFDA Fashion Awards - Inside Arrivals
2011 CFDA Fashion Awards - Inside Arrivals

The night is about celebrating fashion's movers and shakers, but it's also a nice chance to eat and gab and hug. "We move so fast in our industry that we don't often reflect on what you've accomplished. The lifetime achievement award (given this year to Norma Kamali) is a reflection, a chance to step back," says Kolb.