“The Next Big Things” 

Jason Wu, who is undeniably a star within fashion’s constellation, was a relative unknown just about 6 years ago, but when he was awarded Fashion Group International’s Rising Star for Womenswear, that certainly changed. On Friday, he returned as the Keynote Speaker at Fashion Group’s 18th annual Rising Star Awards (which had been postponed from Tuesday January 27th, because of the snow storm that wasn’t). This sold out event gets bigger each year. It’s a wonderful luncheon and awards ceremony, which takes place at Cipriani 42nd Street. And this year, the beauty of the grand building was enhanced thanks to the innovative company, Flowerbox (www.flowerboxnature.com), whose concept, which originated in France, is inspired by the vertical wall gardens of Patrick Blanc.

There are 8 different categories (accessories, home/interior design, fine jewelry, retail, beauty/fragrance, menswear, beauty/fragrance corporate, the Karen Harvey Business Innovator Award, and womenswear), and let’s just say that going home with an award is a game changer and quickly puts your name on the map. Past celebrated winners in the womenswear category include Tory Burch, Joseph Altuzarra, and Wes Gordon.

Jason Wu

During the course of his speech (which was heartfelt and often humorous), Jason Wu observed, “This is a special occasion. It’s a homecoming really. In 2008, I was very honored to receive the Rising Star Award. Thank you Fashion Group and Margaret Hayes. It gave my career a boost.”“I had a very interesting path to success to say the least. I began as a toy designer. In 2007 I started a ready-to-wear collection. My design studio was in the middle of my living room (this got a lot of laughs). There was 10 pieces. I invited editors, retailers, and friends. Friends showed up (this also got some laughs). Getting your first Neiman Marcus or Saks order is the biggest thrill. I learned the industry from the ground up”.“My brand is more established now and I am older but I still consider myself a student of the industry. My mom always said, “Once you stop learning, you stop growing”. Hard work really does pay off. Don’t compromise your vision because that’s what you’ve got. That’s you!”

Then the awards ceremony began. The first category was accessories, and jewelry designer RJ Graziano named Beth Macri, from Beth Macri Designs as the winner (she ‘accessorized’ her outfit with a leg cast). When Hearst’s Kate Kelly Smith, (who also had a cast on one leg), got up to give the award in the Home/Interior Design category (it went to Lydia Marks & Lisa Frantz of Marks and Frantz Design), she joked, “I hope we’re not starting a trend in our casts.” Lydia noted, “Our company’s tagline is “we’re incorporating fashion. Thank you Fashion Group because this is the perfect place for us to be.”Benjamin Macklowe awarded Paige Novick of Phyne By Paige Novick, the Rising Star Award in the Fine Jewelry category. Paige said, “The nomination was the big win for me. This is just the cherry on the top. Everyone here is a winner.” Macy’s Nicole Fischelis gave Audrey McLoghlin of Frank & Eileen, the award in the Retail category. Audrey thanked her grandparents, “They inspired me with their love. That’s what started this company.”Lord & Taylor’s Barbara Zinn-Moore named Patti Pao of Resorsea, as the winner in the Beauty/Fragrance Entrepreneur category. Patti remarked, “Very few people in life get their shot. But when you’re given you’re shot, take it and run with it!”

Stan Herman with Menswear Award winners

Prior to giving Whitney Hunter & Andy Gathings of Salence, the Rising Star Menswear Award, Stan Herman took a moment to give a shout out to menswear, noting it’s definitely having a moment in the sun, and gone are the days of thinking it to be a second class citizen. “Menswear has moved the fashion needle from square to rectangle and the needle is set to move again because we will be going forward with the menswear collections.” (Indeed, after lots of speculation, it’s now official. CFDA’s CEO Steven Kolb has confirmed that the organization will go ahead with their plans to launch New York Fashion Week: Men. The first installation will be the upcoming spring 2016 collections, which will be held this summer, July 13- 16, at the Skylight Clarkson Sq in SoHo). In summing up their company, which specializes in outerwear, Whitney said, “We had this idea of taking functionality and bringing it into fashion.”

Self Magazine’s Elaine D’Farley announced MAC Cosmetics’ Mimoza Disha as winner in the Beauty/Fragrance Corporate category, and Karen Harvey gave the Business Innovator Award to Amber Venz and Baxter Box of rewardStyle, saying “Talent is everything. We need creators and innovators.”

Womens RTW Winners Jason & Julie Haus Alkire with Sally LaPointe

And then Elle’s Robbie Myers came up to give the award for Womenswear (the future Jasons, Josephs, and Torys perhaps?) “We’re happy for Stan Herman and this is a great moment for menswear”. “But, it’s an equally exciting moment for womenswear” she enthused, before announcing a tie (which doesn’t happen too often): Sally LaPointe for Sally Lapointe (known for her feminine yet linear silhouettes, precise tailoring, and minimal colors), and Julie Haus Alkire & Jason Alkire for Haus Alkire (whose designed on form New York made creations, combine fashion and art). When the couple came up to reclaim their award, an exuberant Jason exclaimed, “This is not our first rodeo, as they say in Texas, but we were told to never give up! Demand a recount if you’d like but in the meantime, we’re going to take this. And thanks!”

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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