FIT Foundation’s Annual Awards Dinner

“Fine Feathered Friends”

Victoria Crowned Pigeon
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner
(Click image for larger view)

Last night, approximately 700 guests (leaders and luminaries from the worlds of fashion, business, music, design, art, and culture) converged on Cipriani 42nd Street in celebration of FIT and The Fashion of Institute of Technology Foundation’s annual awards dinner gala. This wildly popular black tie event benefits the FIT Educational Development Fund which provides scholarships to FIT’s “most promising students” and helps the college “cultivate the next generation of creative leaders.” (Upwards of 1 million dollars was raised last evening).

Joan Hornig, Dr. Jay Baker, Linda Fargo
Photo: Patrick McMullan Company

This year’s three well deserving honorees were given their awards after a fabulous and sumptuous dinner that began with cold lobster salad (what else would you expect from Cipriani?): FIT’s trustee and foundation chairman (and former Kohl’s president) Dr. Jay H. Baker (who was given his award by a Baker scholar); jewelry designer, philanthropist, and FIT trustee Joan Hornig (she was wearing a dress especially created for her by FIT Alumna Cristina Ottaviano and her husband George did the honors); and Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo (Alber Elbaz flew in from Paris to make the special presentation to Linda and the Lanvin designer also created her spectacular one shouldered green gown).

FIT Board Chair, Liz Peek & Couture Council Chair, Yaz Hernandez
Photo: Patrick McMullan Company

The Gala’s Chairs were Pamela Baxter, Joy Herfel Cronin, Victoria Elenowitz, Yaz Hernandez, Jane Hertzmark Hudis, and Liz Peek, who along with Dr. Joyce Brown, made her welcoming remarks right after guests were seated for dinner. As she put it, “What’s really wonderful in the world today — and what happens every night in New York — is being able to honor people for really doing the right thing and for being generous in particular for supporting your cause so magnanimously”. For her part, Dr. Brown paid tribute to the “three special individuals” who have “made a mark on their respective industries”; have consistently shown their commitment to FIT; and fully well understand the important connection between education and the “future of creative industries.”

Blue Guinea Fowl
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

By the way, in honor of Bergdorf Goodman, the invitations to the event were in purple and silver. And Devon Bruce created the special décor for the evening, the highlight of which was a special installation: mannequins were transformed into fanciful birds by a group of FIT’s first year students in the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design Program (in April, “Fowl Play” was also an arresting exhibition at the Museum at FIT). The students were asked to research different species of birds, visited the Feather Place in the Garment Center for more inspiration on how nature inspires fashion, and then student teams were instructed to transform mannequins into birds – each to be inspired by one specific fashion design. It could not have been more magical, nor more fitting for the evening, as it’s not lost on me that there is a unique, ongoing connection (both literally and figuratively) between fashion, feathers and birds.

Linda Fargo, Alber Elbaz
Photo: Patrick McMullan Company

Fashion designers and devotees of fashion are perennially enamored with feathers, using them on every manner of clothing and accessory. Like proud peacocks, they love to strut their stuff and show off their finery and resplendent dress. There are even a number of famous quotes using the word ‘feathers’, which can easily apply to the fashion community: “light as a feather” (keeping slim and trim is the optimum way to show off clothing); “fowl play” (let’s face it: there’s “fowl play” in every segment of the population, including fashion LOL); “fine feathered friends”, and “birds of a feather flock together” (fashion and design minded people tend to seek one another out).

Designer Cristina Ottaviano who designed Joan Hornig’s Dress
Photo: Patrick McMullan Company

Among fashion’s fine feathered friends that flocked together last night, to pay tribute to Linda, Jay, Joan (some of whom were wearing feather trimmed designs): Diane Von Furstenberg, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Carolina Herrera, Stefano Tonchi, Giovanna Battaglia, Hamish Bowles, Ken Downing, Reed Krakoff, Josie Natori, Dr. Valerie Steele, Billy and Julie Macklowe, Alexandra Lebenthal, Jean Shafiroff, Adrienne and Gianliugi Vittadini, Dennis Basso (who has been known to use a feather or two in his opulent fur and fur trimmed designs), AND the original Rare Bird (“Rara Avis”): Iris Apfel, who while not wearing a single plume, managed to steal the show in her fabulous black and white polka dot two piece ensemble (vintage Geoffrey Beene?)

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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