Fashion Group International’s 2014 Rising Star Awards

Giovanna Randall of Honor winner
of the women’s rtw award

Yesterday, I attended Fashion Group International’s ( 17th annual Rising Star Awards, and once again, the sold out event, which honors 17 outstanding individuals in 8 different fields, was held at Cipriani 42nd Street. I could think of worse ways to spend a frigid early afternoon in January, than by enjoying a wonderful meal of prosciutto and pear salad, Chilean Sea Bass, strawberries and chocolate mousse, (and enough spirits to warm anyone’s frozen body), in the company of my fellow ‘fashionphiles’, many of whom I’ve known for decades. All for the purpose of celebrating the “extraordinary accomplishments of emerging talents” whose creativity and vision are realized in the following categories: Accessories, Home/Interior Design, Beauty Corporate, Beauty Entrepreneur; Fine Jewelry, Men’s Apparel, Women’s Apparel, Retail, and Business Innovation.

And of course, getting a few laughs courtesy Simon Doonan, the outrageously funny Master of Ceremonies, doesn’t hurt. He is so humorous; many in the crowd (including Simon himself) started laughing before he even uttered 10 words. He started out by reminding everyone that he’s “been around since the Middle Ages” (he described himself as a “gay male version of Dame Maggie Smith’s character in Downton Abbey”) and therefore he felt obliged to share some of his wisdom with the relative ‘newbies’ being honored. He had 7 pointers which he proceeded to deadpan:

#1- “Have at least one drag queen in your orbit”. 

#2- “You will have to travel as you become more and more successful. Always leave a huge tip for the chamber maid- or else your rising star will plummet quickly!” 

#3- “Make sure your star is on a dimmer so you can adjust it (this way you won’t blind us with your fabulousness!)” 

#4- “Always keep a jar of pickles in the fridge. I always do and don’t know why, but I’m afraid to find out what would happen if I don’t”. 

#5- “Don’t give away your frocks to celebrities. They can easily afford to buy them. In fact, you should over charge them 10% (think of it as a celebrity sur charge)”. 

#6 – “Don’t take from your parents’ 401K, this could lead to horrible consequences” which he began to innumerate. 

#7- “Always remember that fashion is fun. Don’t become neurotic. Enjoy your creative odyssey”.

Then it was time for the awards…
Lincoln Moore was the presenter in the Accessories category. Nominees were Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa for Warby Parker; Edmundo Castillo for Edmundo Castillo; Annie Jaroszewicz for Equipt For Play; Melanie Lopez for Roman & Sunstone; Deborah Sawaf for Thale Blanc; Annette and Phoebe Stephens for Anndra Neen; Michelle Vale for Michelle Vale. The winners were a tie between Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa, and Edmundo Castillo who noted “We all work in a challenging industry  that is also a lot of fun. It’s great to create beautiful things.”
The very animated designer Steven Stolman presented in the Home/Interior Design category. He told the crowd that the last time he attended a Fashion Group event was 30 years ago. When he was working for a large dress company on 7th Avenue (which he jokingly referred to as “Hideous Originals by Despicable Me”), he was asked to fill in for someone at the last moment, and found himself surrounded by about 1000 other people, including design icons Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, and Pauline Trigere. “Silly me, I thought I was one of them, and that I belonged” he joked. “I was honored to have been invited back by FGI”. He presented the award to Anna Karlin of Anna Karlin (“I have been in business for one year and what a year it’s been!” she stated). The other nominees were Jon Call, Mr. Call Designs, and Reinaldo Leandro and Ariel Ashe of Ashe & Leandro.
Leslie Blodgett presented in the Beauty/Fragrance Entrepreneur category. The winners were husband and wife team Tony Perez and Meredith Waga of Belle Fleur (they announced that they met when they were 6 years old). “Wow!” exclaimed Meredith. “I know it’s not very eloquent, but Wow!”, she exclaimed. “Our daughters taught us how to communicate in this incredible language of scent”, Tony chimed in.
Other nominees in that category were Kelly Jones, Kelly & Jones; Claude Morais and Brian Wolk of Ruffian Beauty; and Nathan Motylinski of Le Cherche Midi.
Kara Ross presented Margery Hirschey of Margery Hirschey the award in the Fine Jewelry category (“This is terrifying to stand in front of all these people” she admitted). Fellow nominees: Lisa Black of Lisa Black Jewellery, Amaia & Yolanda Torrubia of Turrubia & Torrubia, and Joseph Yushuva of Casa Reale.
When Rachel Shechtman of Story, accepted the Retail Award from Brooke Jaffe, she said “I’ve known (FGI President) Margaret Hayes for 12 years so this is an honor. One funny thing I have to share with you. My first job was working for Steven Stolman in his Southampton store 19 years ago.” Her fellow nominees were Katie Finnegan and Erica Bell of Hukkster, and Charlotte Neuville of The Fashion Chef.
Upon receiving the Beauty/Fragrance Corporate Award from Amy Astley, Ruhi Patil (International Flavors & Fragrances) thanked Fashion Group International for “creating such a wonderful platform”. She beat out Eileen Ahasic of The Estee Lauder Companies, Jean Michel Karam of Ioma Paris, and Sara Zucker of Nars Cosmetics.

Ian Velardi and Kerby Jean Raymond with
Hal Rubenstein

Before Hal Rubenstein presented Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss with the Menswear Award, he told the audience, “Thank God for menswear otherwise I’d be freezing my ass off right now” (everyone laughed). Men are finally coming to the realization that there’s a world between work and weekend worth dressing for and the choices have never been so great.” He also reminded everyone that those powerhouse icons Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani both started as menswear designers.

For his part, Kerby called his work “a passion project and the greatest challenge of my life”. “It’s a one man business and I work from my apartment. I want to thank my  family, who is my team. But I especially want to thank my girlfriend, for letting me max out my credit cards. I promise to buy you a ring. We will make it”.
Others in his category were Matthew Orley, Alex Orley & Samantha Florence of Orley; Ernest Sabine of Ernest Alexander; Ian Velardi of Ian Velardi.
When Karen Harvey got up to present her Karen Harvey Business Innovator Award (which is now in its second year), she noted “we are all fortunate to live in an era of robust innovation. Good ideas by themselves are really meaningless. This year I am pleased to honor Michael Preysman and Everlane for its refreshing idea of transparency. It reminds me that great ideas can come from anywhere. Everlane is a brand and not just a retailer. Michael is a founder/innovator”. For his part, Michael acknowledged that “without a great team you can’t accomplish very much.”
Last but not least was the Women’s Ready to Wear Award, the largest category with 8 nominees: Julie and Jason Alkire of Haus Alkire; Vengsarkar  Budhu of Gavaskar; Charles Harbison of Harbison; Nary Manivong of Nary Manivong; Giovanna Randall of Honor; Tanya Taylor of Tanya Taylor; Frank Tell of Frank Tell; and Marissa Webb of Marissa Webb. Stephen Burrows announced the winner was Giovanna Randall of Honor.

 An ‘honor’ indeed.



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.

1 Comment
  1. Hi, great recap but if I can chime in with one small correction…for the Fragrance / Beauty Entrepreneur category speech, I thanked our perfumers (not my daughters) for teaching us how to communicate in this incredible language of scent! If my 13 and 9 year old were that advanced, I'd retire and let them be the creative directors…hmmm, that's a thought! Thanks again!!

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