Fashion Group International’s 39th Annual Night of Stars

The room – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Fashion Group International held its 39th annual gala at the Plaza Hotel on Tuesday evening. It is the non-profit organization’s biggest annual fundraiser, established to recognize the achievements of outstanding individuals in fashion, beauty, entertainment, sustainability, arts, culture, and humanitarian communities.

Nadia Ferreira, Marc Anthony and Maryanne Grisz – Photo by Sean Zanni for Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The Night of Stars attracts an increasingly diverse and eclectic group of honorees, presenters, and attendees each year. Among those who came to the celebration were Martha Stewart, Candace Bushnell, Regina Kravitz, Fern Mallis, Pamela Dennis, Frederick Anderson, Narciso Rodriguez, Ken Downing, Kelly Cutrone,

Amy Fine Collins & Dennis Basso – Photo by Lieba Nesis

Phillipe and David Blond, Jean Shafiroff, Elie Tahari, Ana Navarro, Derek Warburton, Carlos Campos, Pamela Fiori, Loris Diran, Elizabeth Sutton, José Castelo Branco, Amy Fine Collins, Olga Ferrara, Melissa Vale, Caroline Vazzana, Katya Tolstova, Leckie Roberts.

The Blondes – Photo by Lieba Nesis

While the invite said “Black Tie,” this means different things to different people, especially when it’s New York fashion insiders. And so, there were gowns worthy of “Gone with the Wind” alongside outfits that one can wear grocery shopping and literally everything in between.

Jean Shafiroff & Whoopi Goldberg – Photo by Lieba Nesis

There was a lot of black and a smattering of color, as seen on Eva Chen, Jean Shafiroff, and myself. My choice for the evening was a colorful gown of thick cotton poplin by Christopher John Rogers, nominated for the 2023 CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year.

“What is Fashion Group International? I can sum it up in one word. It’s community. A community with common interests and a passion for helping others move our industry forward, a community that cares deeply for others and helps others.”

Gary Wassner, CEO of Hilldun Corporation

Diversity, inclusion, community, and philanthropy were the hallmarks of an evening that began with FGI President Maryanne Grisz before delivering her welcoming address, asking for a moment of silence in honor of those affected by the violence in the Middle East.

Jack Menashe – Photo by Lieba Nesis

As Maryanne noted, FGI has come a long way since its inception in 1928 when 17 women, gathered by Edna Woolman Chase, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, met for lunch in a modest midtown New York restaurant.

Michael Lorber, Jeffrey Goldmuntz – Photo by Lieba Nesis

While the organization’s early members were about as homogenous as possible (the roster included Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubenstein, Edith Head, and Clair McCardell), FGI is now a worldwide membership organization of industry leaders in the fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and retail sectors that prides itself on diversity and eclecticism.

Carlos Campos & Megan Key – Photo by Lieba Nesis

In fact, this is precisely what Whoopi Goldberg touched on when she received the Fashion Icon Award from Gary Wassner. “I feel like a bit of a fraud in this group. Not a big fraud, but a little fraud. I’m a fan of all of you. People who make things in their minds and then just make it happen. I want to say thanks!”

“I’m thinking about who the women founders of FGI were. I don’t think many of them look like me, so you’ve all made changes happen. I thank you more than anything else for that.”

Whoopi Goldberg

Goldberg, whose birth name is Caryn Elaine Johnson, regaled the crowd when she recounted her meeting with Pope Francis in Vatican City last week. The 67-year-old who played Mary Sister Clarence in the Sister Act films recalled being deemed ‘very important’ by the Pope. To which she replied, “Not as important as you.”

“In fashion, there is nothing like seeing a new talent for the first time and watching designers become a long-term success.”

Cathy Horyn

Lazaro Hernandez & Jack McCollough – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, Co-Founders, and Designers Proenza Schouler, were presented with the Fashion Star Award by Cathy Horyn, Fashion Critic-at-Large, The Cut. Jack was born in Tokyo and raised in New York; Lazaro is a Cuban American raised in Miami. Horyn, looking chic and understated in a black dress and pumps (Proenza Schouler, I assume), said the duo has never been more focused than they are now, and she lauded them for the “sharpness of their vision and the assurance behind it.” I agree completely.

Marilyn Kirschner – Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Lazaro and Jack said they respect Cathy’s opinion more than anyone’s. They will never forget how Horyn deservedly panned their second collection. They said she inspires them, makes them better designers, and improves the industry with honesty and bluntness.

Olga Ferrara – Photo by Lieba Nesis

Marc Anthony, global music star and co-founder of the Maestro Cares Foundation, which helps children and families in need worldwide, received the Humanitarian Award from Narciso Rodriguez. During his heartfelt acceptance speech, Anthony, the son of Puerto Rican parents, announced he has just founded a scholarship program to help “the next generation of designers. “

Andrew Bolton, Eva Chen, James D’Adamo – Photo by Lieba Nesis

The evening ended with Eva Chen, author, and director of fashion partnerships at Instagram, presenting Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with the Superstar Award. She hailed Andrew as “the most eloquent man in the room.” She praised him for his tireless championing of designers and creatives, ability to merge art, culture, and history with fashion, and his complete dedication to the industry, art, culture, and history.

Frederick Anderson, Katya Tolstova, & Ken Downing – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Andrew congratulated his fellow honorees. He said that after his companion Thom Browne, fashion is his greatest passion (Thom is abroad on business, so he could not be there last night). “Because of its proximity to one’s body, fashion has the power that no other art form can possibly come close to,” says Andrew. “I’m reminded of this power every time I work on an exhibition. Diversity is what makes fashion so powerful on the world stage.”

Each guest was gifted with a black or tan quilted gold-zippered faux leather London Fog backpack filled with goodies as they left. Among the contents are Prada’s “Candy” Eau de Toilette, a bottle of Maison Margiela’s Pari “Replica” Eau de Toilette Vaporisateur Spray, Saints & Sinners’ Velvet Hair Mask and Moisture Shampoo, Kiehl’s Ferulic Brew Rejuvenating Facial Essence, and Nars Afterglow Liquid Blush in the shade called, “Orgasm.” I’ll leave it at that!

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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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