The ‘ACE’ in Spades

Last night approximately 680 strong, including some of the biggest stars in the worlds of fashion and entertainment (actually, aren’t they one in the same these days?) converged on Cipriani 42nd street to celebrate the 10th Annual ACE (Accessories Council Excellence) Awards, first created in 1996. According to their website,, the Ace Awards were created in 1996 as a way to “pay homage to those individuals and groups that have made great strides in raising the awareness of the accessories industry. The purpose of the awards is to celebrate those who have had a positive impact on accessory consumption during the prior year.”

To mark the popular, and sold out event and to emphasize the star power which connects the worlds of fashion, accessories, and entertainment, “Access Hollywood’s” statuesque Nancy O’Dell (ironically, ‘access’ is part of ‘accessories’), wearing a jade green long strapless gown, served as emcee of the evening, and stars like Zoe Cassavetes, Naomi Watts, and Jane Krakowski (the latter of which were both wearing short dresses, a continuing theme for evening), mingled with fashion stars such as Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Glenda Bailey, Narcisco Rodriguez, Zac Posen, Reed Krakoff, Nina Garcia. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another ‘star’: Tinsley Mortimer, the socialite/ handbag designer/professional ‘poseur’ who the paparazzi can’t seem to get enough of. Tinsley has gotten her poses down perfectly at this moment in time, and she wowed the photogs dressed in a pale gold lurex short dress, black tights, black pumps, and carrying a metallic clutch bag from her Samantha Thavasa by Tinsley Mortimer line.

Of course, what nobody counted on was that PETA protesters would be out in front of Cipriani in an attempt to dampen the festivities. Greeting the guests who had to stand on a long line to check in (security was tight due to the ‘star power’) were a small and vocal group of protesters, holding signs bearing slogans like, “Animals are not accessories”, “Cruel, selfish, mean, wicked, shallow” shouting things like, “Cruelty should never be rewarded”, and insulting all fur wears. Even though it was unseasonably warm, that hardly stopped a number of guests from wearing fur. And like In Style’s Cindy Weber Cleary (who came in a long gown and small fur cape), those who wore fur chose little pieces.

Jennifer Lopez (who was there with hubby Marc Anthony to receive the ACE Award), literally (and unsurprisingly) caused a paparazzi feeding frenzy when she arrived, wearing a slightly bubble hemmed short ivory strapless dress which she ‘accessorized’ with pearl drop earrings, an enormous ring, an ivory satin wrist bag, and sky high lace covered stiletto heels, which showed off her well toned bare legs. (When you’re J Lo you don’t really need to accessorize to make a statement but of course, the evening was all about accessories after all). Tom Ford, who ‘accessorized’ his tuxedo with a natty black and white checked scarf also had to be escorted in past the photographer’s gallery, by publicist Paul Wilmot (Paul Wilmot Communications handled the press for the event).

Other honorees were Silvia Fendi for Fendi, ‘Brand of the Year’; Coach, in its 65th year in business, ‘Fashion Innovator’; “O”, The Oprah Magazine, ‘Magazine of the Year’ (and on her November cover, Oprah is bedecked in earrings, bracelets, a long beaded necklace, and a watch, as if to drive the point home); stylist to the stars Rachel Zoe, fresh from her Fashion Group International Fashion Oracle Award just days ago (which was also held at Cipriani 42nd street), received her ‘Fashion Influencer’ Award; Bergdorf Goodman was honored with ‘Retailer of the Year’; Solstice Sunglass Boutique was bestowed ‘Specialty Store of the Year’; and Suzy Menkes, who made the trip from London (recovering from a broken toe), to pick up her ‘Marylou Luther Journalism Award’ and turning a cane into a striking accessory fit for the occasion.

Suzy was wearing a cardinal red satin ¾ length coat with short full sleeves, made for her by Nicolas Guesquiere (which was an exact reproduction of an original Balenciaga). She wisely ‘accessorized’ with Prada’s bronze t strap shoes on a curved but sturdy heel, featuring a squarish/round toe (comfortable yet festive). She told me she was thrilled to be given the award and observed, “Accessories are where it’s at now. Who thinks about the clothes? It’s all about the accessories.”

When I asked this outspoken and intelligent veteran what she thought would happen with the scheduling of shows in New York this September, she was quick to voice her disdain of the current schedule. “I hope they start a bit later. I think these collections are getting TOO early (and she emphasized the word, “too”). I don’t understand this business of showing right after Labor Day. Coming to New York at this time (late October), the city looks so fabulous. I really feel seriously that it doesn’t do the New York fashion industry any favors to be showing so early and I think they should really start looking seriously at moving the dates up to where they had been. Isn’t the whole problem with Bryant Park because of the timing of the shows?” While she noted that nothing would probably change as early as September 07, there might be a change at a later time.

In the meantime, when I asked Suzy if she came into town just for her award, she said she also attended Bill Clinton’s 60th birthday celebration/Rolling Stone concert at the Beacon on Sunday.” Which she said was fabulous!

Getting back to accessories, it was not surprising that many invited guests factored the theme of the evening into their choice of dress. Even Marylou Luther, known for her minimalist fashion sense (not to mention her love of black), opted instead for a beautiful green Thea Porter coat accessorized with strands of vintage beads. And many of those who wore black (and they were out in force), used the non color as a perfect foil to make their interesting bags or shoes stand out. Proving that certain accessories never go out of style and always look great, the one woman who really caught my eye was wearing a simple knee length scoop neck black dress and accessorized with masses of long pearls (another ongoing ‘trend’ as of late).

And speaking of accessories, it’s hardly surprising that the ACE award itself, was not your average, run of the mill trophy but a singularly beautiful, and highly collectible accessory. To mark the group’s 10 year milestone, Judith Leiber created a new design: a large and weighty crystal minaudiere that boasts a sterling silver plaque inside.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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