Nicole Richie puts on her hostess hat to kick off NY Fashion Week at Style Awards

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Style Awards at Lincoln Center kicked off New York Fashion Week with honours for Kate Upton, Zac Posen and Rachel Zoe, among others.

The largest venue at the tents that serve as fashion week’s hubs were filled with tables, ice buckets and celebrities Wednesday night, just 12 hours before BCBG Max Azria would preview the first major collection of the week on the catwalk.

Christie Brinkley, “Mad Men’s” Jessica Pare and Joe Manganiello of “True Blood” watched ceremony hostess Nicole Richie make a half-dozen outfit changes as she gave shout-outs to Upton, named model of the year, and to designers, industry titans and costumers, including John Varvatos, Victor Cruz, Victoria’s Secret, Janie Bryant and Frederic Fekkai. Posen was picked as the year’s top designer and Zoe as the No. 1 celebrity stylist.

“I have the best job in the whole world,” said 21-year-old Upton, who noted she’s been to all seven continents — wearing a bikini in each.

Richie said on the red carpet that she was looking forward to meeting Upton, the two-time Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover girl. “I don’t know her, but, yeah, I’m very excited to meet her… my twin!” Richie said.

Presenting Upton with her award, Brinkley added, “It seems like the entire world is raving about Kate Upton.”

Meanwhile, it was Posen, who was named designer of the year, who captured Brinkley’s heart before the show. The Instagram buddies had an amusing exchange in front of Brinkley’s teenage daughter Sailor.

“I love your clothes. I mean the cut, the femininity,” Brinkley gushed.

Posen responded, “Well, I love women. It should be about encouraging that. … That’s why we do what we do to celebrate these amazing, amazing iconic creatures. Let them flourish and feel good forever. That’s what fashion is for.

Varvatos was awarded the prize as the top menswear designer, and he said the work of outfitting men — from rock stars to everyday Joes — was rewarding. “This is what I come to work to do every single day of my life,” he said.