Fashion Group International’s 19th Annual Rising Star Awards

The Fashion Group International held its 19th Annual Rising Star Awards Luncheon on Thursday. Sponsored by Hearst Magazines & Saks Fifth Avenue, the setting was once again, Cipriani 42nd Street, where the signature Bellinis began flying at 11:15 a.m. FGI President Margaret Hayes made her welcoming remarks and warmly chided guests that they had “25 minutes” to enjoy their lunch of prosciutto and melon and Chilean Sea Bass (Cipriani makes the best Chilean Sea Bass on the planet). She then introduced this year’s Keynote Speaker: Linda Fargo, describing Bergdorf Goodman’s Senior Vice President and Director of Women’s Fashion and Store Presentation as “the eyes of Bergdorf Goodman” and hailing her as “all seeing, all knowing about luxury and style”.

Margaret Hayes
Photo: Laurel Marcus

Linda, looking chic as always, described this event, which celebrates “new dreams, new talents”, as a “great way to kick off the New Year”. “We’re all members of a strangely wonderful tribe” she noted, looking around at the more than 400 guests who packed the room. “Each of us has a story. We’re all stylish lemmings in this cut and sew cake”. Referring to the nominees, she said, “You all deserve an award for just being here and making it” in an industry that “employs well over 75 million people” and has “overtaken sports as a global business”.

Linda Fargo
Photo: Laurel Marcus

“There’s room for all of you who have an idea and a dream.” Where there’s a will there’s a way. If you want it, it’s yours for the taking in this fabulous city. Only the best, most interesting ideas rise to the top- hence, “Rising Stars” (she noted that past star winners include Tory Burch, Jason Wu, Joseph Altuzarra). Stay inspired. You’re a winner to be here today.”

The venue
Photo: Laurel Marcus

Then the awards (generously provided by Movado), were given out (winners of Menswear & Women’s RTW received sponsored venue and production generously provided by “Style Fashion Week”). There was a tie in two categories, Accessories and Menswear. Cornelia Guest handed the Accessories Award (which she won last year) to Brett Heyman of Edie Parker, who promised to “keep working hard to keep you proud”, and to Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger (Dee Ocleppo) who credited her husband Tommy, for inspiring her to start the company (“he prepared me all week for losing”).  She went on to say that prior to founding her company, she was a model and observed that “being a model is a walk in the park compared to what you all do”. Other nominees in the category were Frieda Rothman (Frieda Rothman); Heather Hubbard (Mr.); Jodie Fox , Michael Fox,, Mike Knapp (Shoes of Prey); Elena Corsano, Michelle Vale (Soak); Yliana Yepez (Yliana Yepez LLC).

Tommy Hilfiger and Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger

David Curcurito announced the two winners in the Menswear field: Donrad Duncan for EFM and Malan Breton for Malan Breton Homme. They edged out Greg Lauren, Peyman Umay, and Rochambeau’s Laurence Chandler and Joshua Cooper. For his part, Donrad thanked his coworkers and said, “I’ve been on this journey for a while. What I’ve learned from you has helped me to get to this step”. Malan Breton described the win as “so unexpected” and he singled out the two major two mentors in his life: Paul Cuss at Turnbull & Asser (he “taught me elements of design for men”), and “Mr. (Arnold) Scaasi”, who “passed away last year.” He ended by saying, “All the other nominees’ works are stunning and you have inspired me as well.”

Emily Dougherty gave Clio Ermenidis of Fermenich, the award for Beauty/Fragrance Corporate. She beat out Stefano Ruggieri (Estee Lauder, Lab Series Skincare for Men), Linda Song (Givaudan), and Ana Paredes (LVMH Fragrance Brand, Givenchy).

Carol Brodie announced Michal Kadar for Cadar, as the winner for Fine Jewelry. She seemed truly surprised, apologizing that she was “not prepared” and thanked Fashion Group International. Other nominees were Natalie Frigo (by/natalie frigo), Katie Scott (Katie Scott Jewelry), and Meredith Marks (Meredith Marks).

Presenters Katia Beauchamp and Emily Dougherty

Katia Beauchamp helped prove that old adage, “Three is a Charm”, for vbeaute’s Julie Macklowe (she had been up two previous times and finally won this year). When a good looking guy (Billy Macklowe) got up to receive the award, he deadpanned, “I’m not Julie. I’m Mr. Julie Macklowe.” “Julie could not be here today because of circumstances out of our control” and went on to say that the award represents Julie’s product which he said was “fabulous, luxurious, yet at a price point women can relate to.” He then added, “As a mother of a young girl, for Julie, it’s all about “women’s empowerment”, and he then thanked Fashion Group International (fyi, there were a few winners who unbelievably, did not thank FGI). Julie was up against Fabian Lliguin, Amazon Beauty, Inc./Rahua; Tiffany Masterson, Drunk Elephant Skin Care; Linda Stephenson, Mereadesso, Inc.; Sue Phillips, Scenterprises, Inc.

Margaret Russell announced Aerin Lauder (Aerin) as the winner in the Home/Interior Design Category. Aerin called it “a dream come true” and then quoted her uncle Leonard Lauder: “You’re only as good as the people around you.” Her competition was Mela Artisan’s Dipali Patwa and Savage Interior Design’s Jonathan Savage.

“Thrilled is an understatement” said Plan de Ville’s Catherine Smith upon hearing Roopal Patel call her name as the recipient of this year’s Retail Award. “Thank you to the designers who said “yes” when I first asked them to fill this initial small order”. FYI, she edged out Kelly “The Candyman” Jaime, The Sweet Shop NYC; Maxine Bedat, Zady, and Trunk’s Aimee Grubel, Radka Osickova, Natasha Samoylenko.

Roopal Patel

By the way, all of us have made fashion mistakes from time to time and I bet that when Ms. Patel sees images of her from this event, she may well come to the conclusion that alas, her wide horizontally striped black and white dress might have not been the wisest choice. Stripes may well be ‘in’ (when are they ever ‘out’?), but this was unflattering, and made her look more like an escapee from Sing Sing than fashion director of Saks fifth Avenue, a post she has held since September, 2015. Just saying.

Last but not least, Nina Garcia announced Brandon Maxwell to be the winner for Women’s RTW. “I had two glasses of champagne because I didn’t think I’d be standing here”, he joked when he took the stage. “Thanks to Margaret Hayes. This is my first season. I hope to make you proud”. Others in this all important category were Katharine Polk (Houghton); Ji Oh (Ji Oh); Meggie Kempner (Kempner); Sarah LaFleur (MM Lafleur); Khanh Nguyen (Nha Khanh LLC); Jordana Warmflash (Novis); Matthew Orley, Alex Orley, Samantha Orley (Orley).

“And thanks for all the good fortune that has come my way. I was a stylist before and I’d like to thank every magazine that supported and hired me. Fashion Group International is an organization started by women. When I grew up, I never felt that I fit in so making women look and feel beautiful has given me much joy and happiness.”

When it was all over, it was not even 2 o’clock (the lunch was called from 11:15 a.m  – 2 p.m.), so once again, Margaret proved that she runs a tight ship. The legend lives on.

– 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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