The Fashion Group International 2021 Night of Stars Gala

All photos Marilyn Kirschner

Last night over 300 guests descended on Cipriani South Street to celebrate Fashion Group International’s annual Night of Stars. Now in its 37th year – and following a two-year hiatus – the popular event honors creative visionaries from around the globe.

Oscar de la Renta designer Fernando Garcia with Kathy Hilton and daughter Nicky Hilton Rothschild

The top fashion prize went to Tommy Hilfiger, recipient of the Superstar & Lifetime Achievement Award. Monse founders and Oscar de la Renta’s creative couple Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim won the “Vanguard” Award. Fausto Puglisi, the creative consultant for Roberto Cavalli, received the Fashion Star Award. Gabriela Hearst was honored with the Sustainability Award, and Norma Kamali received the organization’s first-ever Founder’s Award.

Left: Nicole Fischelis, Center: Norma Kamali & Right: Julie Gilhart

Luxury skincare specialist, stem cell biologist, scientist, and physician Augustinus Bader is the Beauty honoree. This year’s Fashion Provocateur is the stylist to the stars Law Roach. The Retail award went to Kith founder Ronnie Fieg, and MasterCard’s chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar received the Tech and Brand Innovation award.

Maryanne Grisz wearing Oscar de la Renta

The overall theme for the evening was “The Evolutionaries,” which could not be more apropos. As FGI president and chief operating officer, Maryanne Grisz said in her welcoming remarks, “We have all evolved together and emerged from a cocoon.” Indeed, we have all changed, the fashion industry has changed, and boy, has this event changed since its inception when the Night of Stars was a decidedly small, quiet, elegant insider’s event held at the Pierre Hotel.

Cocktail Party

The gala event moved south this year to the tip of Manhattan to accommodate a smaller crowd, and because the historic Beaux-Arts building has a large outdoor space which allows for proper social distancing. No masks were required, but naturally, all guests had to show proof of vaccination. Luckily, the weather was positively balmy for a mid-October evening, and the terrace was a perfect place to enjoy a cocktail and mingle before heading into the festive and sprawling dining room.

Members of the House of Xclusive Lanvin

There were pulsating animated performances by House of Xclusive Lanvin members that began and ended the evening. The guest list included many non “fashion insiders.” While the dress code was “Black Tie,” in fashion jargon, that means everything literally and anything goes these days, and nothing is off-limits. There were women dressed up in gowns: Amy Fine Collins glittered in fringed Thom Browne and Rebecca Vanyo, Kathy and Nicky Hilton, there to give the award to Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, wore Oscar de la Renta. And yes, of course, there was even a smattering of logo t-shirts and sneakers.

From Left to Right: Dustin Yellin, Maxine Petry, Amy Fine Collins & Freddie Leiba

A sneaker-clad Dustin Yellin looked like he wandered into the event by mistake. But there was no mistaking the Brooklyn-based artist’s message when he went on stage to accept the Sustainability Award for Gabriela Hearst, who was in Paris.

In his speech, Yellin admitted he doesn’t like to go to these “fancy dinners” anymore, but he accepted the invitation because of his love for Gabriela. “I like events that pay you NOT to go,” He then posed a question: “What is the most pressing issue of the day?”. Dustin directed the query to a few specific tables. “Climate change, humanity, and alcohol” were some responses. “We all have to delve more into humanity,” said Dustin. “I want you to think how much more you can do. That is what Gabriela would ask,” he observed.

In accepting his award, Law noted the only reason he was there tonight was someone early in his career recognized his talents and gave him a chance. “As long as we give opportunities to others, we will be a better world,” Italian-born Fausto Puglisi says he thinks of New York and its amazing diversity when he designs. “New York is the only place in the world. Thank you, America!” he said to a cheering – and agreeing – audience.

Jasmine Sanders introduced Tommy Hilfiger as a pioneer in inclusivity and Tommy wanted to include all the honorees in his acceptance speech. He lauded Norma Kamali as a true fashion icon in her own right. As for Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, Tommy said, “Oscar would be very proud…and Monse is very cool”. Tommy hailed Law Roach as a genius, and even though Tommy admitted he does not know Gabriela Hearst, he salutes her efforts on behalf of sustainability. Regarding Augustinus Bader’s beauty products, “my wife uses them, and I don’t see wrinkles anymore,” Tommy joked.

He ended the night by inviting House of Xclusive Lanvin back on stage but, within minutes, much of the crowd exited the building to try and find their waiting cars and Ubers. It was quite a scene. All in all, the evening worked out well. If I have any criticisms at all, it’s that there were too many honorees and too many lengthy introductions. It would have been a great year to have a comedian-type host to pull it all together. Where is Simon Doonan when we need him the most?

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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