Last evening, the Fashion Group International held its 36th annual Night of Stars Gala. Approximately 600 turned out at Cipriani Wall Street for a night of cocktails, dinner, and awards. It was an evening of celebration and commemoration. Co-Chairs were FGI Creative Director and International Fashion Syndicate’s Marylou Luther and Elle’s editor-in-chief Nina Garcia. Diane Clehane was the producer of the event.
The overall theme was “The Composers.” Maryann Grisz, president and CEO of Fashion Group International, stated: “Each of the honorees from the worlds of fashion, beauty, retail, and business represent many points of view and approaches in today’s modern industry, all with vision and intention.”
Other attendees included: Vera Wang, Fern Mallis, Joan Kaner, Kay Unger, Susan Gutfriend, Andy Hilfiger, Vanessa Friedman, James LaForce, Jamie Drake, Stan Herman, Margaret Russell, Nick Graham, Constance White, Coco Mitchell, Audrey Smaltz, Gary Wassner, Francisco Costa, Ben Widdicomb, Julie Haus-Alkire, and Gwen Morrison.
During her welcoming address, Maryann noted that it has been an emotional and heartbreaking year, with the deaths of several fashion notables. Among them are Margaret Hayes, Kate Spade, Gloria Vanderbilt and, most recently, Isabel Toledo.
A scholarship fund in the names of both Margaret Hayes and Isabel Toledo has been created in their honor. Isabel’s husband Ruben, the noted illustrator, has always done the artwork for the Night of Stars commemorative brochures, and he did so this year.
Simon Doonan reprised his role as host. He began his cheeky monologue with the question, “What is it all about in fashion right now?” The answer is “gender fluidity,” which Simon said he happens to be an expert on. Doonan somehow managed to weave almost all the honorees into his wild speech.
Martha Stewart gave the Interior Design Award to Delphine Krakoff. Martha said Delphine has done so many things right in her life, including: being born in Paris, keeping her French accent, going to design school, and marrying Reed Krakoff. This duo is known for buying important homes and redoing them. Delphine’s interior design vision is eclectic and unique. Martha said she is an inspiration to us all.
Grace Coddington was dressed in her signatures PJ’s and sneakers. She looked comfy and cozy, more like she was about to head to bed rather than taking the stage to give the Beauty Award to Gucci Westman. The legendary Vogue editor said that Gucci can make someone look beautiful with just the flick of a brush. Her line, Westman Atelier, based on consciously crafted cosmetics, pioneers a “new kind” of clean beauty.
For her part, Ms. Westman said that getting this award from Fashion Group International makes it even more meaningful. She also noted, “what’s great about beauty, as opposed to retail, is that are no markdowns.” This is something her husband David Neville, co-founder of Rag & Bone, knows about all too well.
Nina Garcia took the stage to give the Fashion Star Award to Brandon Maxwell. Nina noted that three years ago, she presented Brandon with the Rising Star Award. She referred to the designer as “the 21st-century designer; the epitome of modern.”
Being told he had two minutes for his speech, Brandon admitted to never doing anything in his life in two minutes. It was an emotional speech as he paid tribute to his life partner.
Next up was Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. They were there to present Rick Owens with the Superstar Award. Kim spoke very briefly and let her husband do most of the talking. She, of course, wore Owens last night. It was a one-shoulder metallic number, body-conscious without being too revealing. However, I was hoping she, or someone else, would wear one of Rick’s amazing dresses and Mayan headpieces from his spring 2020 collection.
Kanye had the crowd laughing as he recalled a recent phone call he made to Rick apologizing for knocking off his color palette. Kanye literally gushed about the designer’s formidable talents. He said that Owens, who he referred to as “our Michael Jordan,” is a dreamer and proves that America can make real fashion. Kanye finished by saying, “Thank you for existing, Rick!”
The lovefest continued. Rick Owens said that he was moved that “two of the most powerful communicators on the planet” presented his award. Rick observed that fashion is about communication. “How we dress is the first step to signal the person you want to be.”
Actress and singer Nell Campbell, wearing a quirky black chapeau, was there to give Jonathan Adler the Brand Heritage Award. She was a stitch. “Does anyone in the room need a really good pot dealer?” she asked. “Because I have someone amazing. The greatest potter in history, Mr. Jonathan Adler.” Nell described Jonathan’s work as “a giant dose of Zoloft.”
Jonathan was wearing a jacket that looked like paint had been splattered over it. He told me it was by Comme des Garcons, purchased at Barneys, the store that gave him his first order 25 years ago. He spoke about all the “mishigas” that goes along with the business, but he loves every minute of it and still feels like the ingénue he was back then. Adler credits passion and creativity as his “Fountain of Youth.”
Harold Koda, the former head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, honored Ralph Rucci with the Fashion Legend Award. He spoke of Ralph’s technical virtuosity, conceptual rigor, great refinement, and the ravishing distinction of his designs. He referred to Ralph as an “American living treasure.”
Ralph Rucci dedicated his award to Elsa Peretti and Vivian Vanatta. He said all he ever wanted to do since his first collection in 1980 was to honor “The Couture.” His speech was humble, short, and sweet, which cannot be said about a few others who rambled on a bit too long. As Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
Actress and activist Laverne Cox presented the Trailblazer Award to Iman. Laverne said that when she looked through fashion magazines like Essence in the ’80s and saw Iman on the cover, she longed to be Iman. Iman noted in her speech, “I am not just a pretty face but a pretty force…. I’ve had to kick some derriere.” Her eponymous makeup brand serves as the premier cosmetics and skincare collection designed for women of color.
Last, but not least, Supermodel and Every Mother Counts founder Christy Turlington gave Donna Karan the Humanitarian Award. Christy said that Donna is so cool, her 16-year-old daughter calls her a “friend.”
Donna changed the way women dressed. But more importantly, she not only dresses women but addresses their critical issues. For Donna, who created Urban Zen after the death of her husband, health care is all that matters. “I would not be standing here today had it not been for my husband.”
Donna also feels strongly that fashion has to start getting in sync with the seasons. Customers who see clothes on the runway do not want to wait 6 months. They want to see it now and buy it now. She hopes the fashion industry can come together and make this a reality.
Donna joked that when she designed for Anne Klein, she tried to get Calvin Klein to work with her. Donna thought they could split the design duties, and then each could take 6 months off. This did not go over too well with Calvin, but it did get a laugh from the audience.
Donna admitted to having a crush on Rick Owens and confessed that she once wanted to hire him to design for Donna Karan. His Rizzoli published book, LeGaspi, featuring 120 color photos, was included in the goody bags handed out at the end of the evening.
There was also a bottle of Donna’s bestselling fragrance, Cashmere Mist. Donna who does not wear fragrance said that she never would have created a fragrance had it not been for her husband.