The late designer was remembered last evening at the CFDA’s celebration of the publication “Geoffrey Beene – An American Fashion Rebel.” The CFDA book, written by Kim Hastreiter (co-founder and co-editor of PAPER magazine), is published by ASSOULINE Inc. Kim, who was busy all night signing books for a never ending line of buyers said, “Mr. Beene inspired me and hopefully this book will inspire others.” It has been just over four years since Geoffrey Beene’s passing and Ms. Hastreiter’s tribute to the great designer attracted a vast and diverse crowd of his admirers.
The party took place at Diane von Furstenberg’s store on West 14th Street. Among the attendees were; Kim Hastreiter, Mickey Boardman, Diane von Furstenberg, Stan Herman, Yeohlee Teng, Ralph Rucci, Ronaldus Shamask, J. Mendel, Bill Cunningham, Randy Brooke (whose 1992 Beene photo is used for the cover), Carlos Falchi, Joan Vass, Richard Mauro, Ruth Finley, Koos van den Akker, Jeffrey Banks, Yigal Azrouel, Adi, Ange & Gabi (Three as Four).
Geoffrey Beene was known for his originality, staying true to himself and not following the rules. The “rebel” emerged when Beene dropped out of medical school as he realized his passion while sketching dresses in his Grey’s Anatomy book. His approach to design was sculptural. Thinking and styling in a three dimensional manner rather than flat, he managed to work with the body in unique, flattering ways. This creative vision coupled with his respect for women (due to his Louisiana gentleman upbringing) produced wearable and memorable clothes. Fabric was the key element as Beene determined design based on drape and color. Graphics and geometry were important and the use of the triangle was a constant, showing up in different techniques and treatments. Beene was never afraid to mix the unexpected and although he was quite serious about his work, he infused a sense of wit and humor into his clothes.
Not only was Geoffrey Beene highly regarded as a designer, he was also revered for his philanthropic nature. All net profits from Geoffrey Beene, LLCC fund the philanthropy which now totals more than $140 million. The lead causes are Cancer (over $100 million to the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center) and Scholarships at the CFDA and YMA. Other causes include Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s, Protection of Women and Children (Family Violence Prevention Fund), and Protection of Animals Tom Hutton, (President and CEO of Geoffrey Beene, Inc.) through the Foundation helped fund the establishment of the GEOFFREY BEENE DESIGN SCHOLAR AWARD. And in 2007 a $5 million dollar gift greatly expanded the CFDA’s core scholarship program.
Fashion misses Geoffrey Beene, however, his work will continue to inspire, influence, and motivate. He will forever be known as a creative icon and Kim’s book is a fitting homage to his legend.