MIDTOWN — Forget the models — the hottest thing this season for Diane von Furstenberg is the mayor.
The design doyenne lavished sartorial praise on the occasionally style-challenged Mayor Michael Bloomberg at an event Monday honoring Fashion Week, saying Hizzoner had nothing left to learn when it came to donning debonair duds.
“He looks so hot! He doesn’t need any,” cooed the famous designer at the Council of Fashion Designers of America's Fashion Incubator in the Garment District.
Mayor Bloomberg, sporting a gray suit, gestured to his tie.
“Thank you," he smiled. "My new tie was a gift."
The mayor, who rarely strays from his reliably tailored suits and V-neck sweaters, also appeared somewhat smitten by the flirty fashion maven, describing her as a “style-setter” and “a very close personal friend.”
“If it wasn’t for her husband, I’d be calling all the time,” he said, quickly clarifying, “Tell Diana [Taylor, his live-in girlfriend] if it wasn’t for her husband and Diana, I’d be calling all the time.”
Von Furstenberg, dressed in a patterned blouse, a simple black skirt and long string of pearls, joined the mayor and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to announce that New York’s Spring and Fall Fashion Weeks will generate a record-breaking $865 million for the city in 2012.
Bloomberg, who wore “a different one of my all-the-same-color suits” for the occasion, said the semiannual star-studded events, which attract designers from across the globe, are as much money-makers as they are style-setters, and help establish the city as the world's fashion capital.
“This semi-annual event is an incredible time of the year for New York City. It’s great for our economy,” Bloomberg told reporters at the Incubator, which provides low-rent space for emerging designers trying to launch their brands.
Von Furstenberg, who spent much of Monday's event hiding behind giant sunglasses, thanked the mayor repeatedly for his support. She also complimented his language skills as he attempted to summarize his announcement in his broken Spanish, which is often mocked.
“It’s better!” she said. “You’re making progress."
But asked if he might consider branching off from politics and media to launch his own clothing line, perhaps with Von Furstenberg, the mayor said he's happy sticking to his day job.
“While I will need a job in another close to two years, this is not where my talents lie,” he said.
Bloomberg also announced the launch of "Design Entrepreneurs NYC" a new “mini MBA” program kicking off in June that will offer free, intensive training to 35 designers at FIT to help them gain the business savvy to run their own labels.
The program is one of a handful of recent initiatives launched by the city, including a competition for free pop-up space, a new fund for emerging designers to help them launch their brands and the incubator space, which is about to welcome its second crop of up-and-comers hoping to strike it big.
Designer Rachel Dooley, who left a career as a lawyer to launch her jewelry line, Gemma Redux, has been working from the space for the past two years and said it has been crucial to the line’s success.
“It really has changed every element of our business,” said Dooley, 32, adding that in addition to the low-rent space, the mentorship and collaboration opportunities have given her an invaluable leg up.
“We’re even making money!" she said. “This has been a really incredible space."
The fashion industry employs approximately 173,000 people a year and generates nearly $10 billion in wages, the mayor said.