The 74th Annual Parsons Benefit Raises Over $1.7 Million

Anna Wintour and Olivier Rousteing – Photo by Randy Brooke

Last night, supermodel Naomi Campbell, Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing and Neiman Marcus Group CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck were honored at the 74th Annual Parsons Benefit. The event, which took place at Cipriani Wall Street, celebrated the honorees for their numerous contributions to design, retail, fashion, philanthropy, and social justice.

The Parsons Benefit is an annual celebration of fashion, design, and the arts’ inspirational and transformational role in today’s world. The evening of cocktails, dinner, and program raised over $1.7 Million. The money is used for critical scholarship funds for current and future students who cannot attend without their donors’ generosity.

“Parsons is proud to honor this bold, innovative, and diverse group of industry leaders who have profoundly inspired our students and for their long-standing commitment to the values that guide Parsons in everything we do.”

Yvonne Watson, Interim Executive Dean, The New School’s Parsons School of Design

Jack McCollough, Geoffroy van Raemdonck, and Lazaro Hernandez – Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Parsons School of Design

In addition to celebrating the three honorees’ numerous contributions to design, retail, fashion, philanthropy, and social justice, the evening highlighted the outstanding work of Parsons’ fashion, design, and performing arts students. It assembled a revered group of fashion-heavy hitters, Parsons alumni other luminaries from the global Parsons network.

Gena Smith, Wes Gordon, Alexandra Moosally – Photo by Noam Galai for Getty

Wes Gordon, creative director at Carolina Herrera, Alexandra Moosally, co-founder at Saint New York Partners, and Gena Smith, chief human resources officer at LVMH Inc., served as benefit co-chairs Parsons Benefit co-chairs. This year’s Benefit included a runway show featuring the work of MFA Fashion Design and Society students, a presentation of the BFA and AAS Fashion Design program’s work, and a special performance by Busta Rhymes.

Parsons Graduate in front of his design – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Before dinner, guests sipped champagne and Bellinis and nibbled on mini lamb chops while perusing an exhibition featuring mannequins dressed in designs by Parsons graduates. The graduates proudly stood by their creations and took pictures of one another. One young man wearing a jacket of his own design with the word “Bizarre” printed on the back, says he hopes to stay in New York and go into costume design.

Donna Karan and Tory Burch – Photo by  Dimitrios Kambouris for Getty Images

Among the 500+ in attendance were Anna Wintour, Virginia Smith, Carolina Herrera (who presented the Parsons Table Award to Geoffroy), Cara Delavigne, Julie Gilhart, British actress Jodie Turner-Smith, Kim Kardashian, Ken Downing, Dapper Dan, Leigh Lezark, Fern Mallis, Olivia Palermo, stylist Kate Young, and past Parson honorees Donna Karan and Tory Burch.

Dapper Dan and Autumn Adeigbo – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Other highly esteemed American designers who, many years ago, were themselves Parsons grads: Joseph Altuzarra, Oscar de la Renta co-designer Laura Kim, Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, Victor Glemaud and Autumn Adeigbo, who recently won Fashion Group International Rising Star Sustainability Award, and last but not least, Marc Jacobs, who accepted Naomi Campbell’s award on her behalf as she was not in attendance.

Marc Jacobs – Photograph by Dimitrios Kambouris for Getty Images

Jacobs was wearing a white dinner jacket by Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent and if you’ve been checking Marc’s Instagram account, it’s obvious Jacobs is obsessed with Saint Laurent as of late. I would not be surprised if Jacobs’ next collection is reflective of this.

An attendee wearing a long trench coat with a train – Photo by Randy Brooke

The evening dress code was “Creative Black Tie,” which is especially fitting for a fashion event where people tend to dress as they desire and usually disregard dress codes altogether. So some people looked like they were going to a formal affair while others looked like they came straight from work or were heading to the country or the beach. There were men in bermudas and long skirts, women in short dresses, coats with trains, denim, sneakers, you name it, I saw it.

Jodie Turner-Smith in Balmain – Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris for Getty Images

But, in the end, with Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing as the honoree, glamour ruled. Olivier wore a severely chic black suit with extra long pants that flared at the hem. I commented to Olivier that he looked much taller than his 5’9” frame, and the designer admitted that he was wearing towering platforms.

There were several attendees, including Cara Delavigne, who joined Rousteing’s “Glamour Army” last night. I assume, Anna, who looked pretty swell, was wearing Balmain, but I don’t know for sure. But for me, the chicest guest was statuesque British actress Jodie Turner-Smith who stunned in a black Balmain pants ensemble accessorized with enormous crystal hoops.

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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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