WHAT IT ALL MEANS: At the Museum of Modern Art on Thursday night, Marc Jacobs was splitting hairs.

“I looked up “innovation,” actually — I think it was yesterday before I wrote my speech for Katie,” he said shortly before presenting the fashion award to stylist Katie Grand at WSJ Magazine’s Innovator of the Year ceremony. “I can’t remember exactly what it said, but I think it was something more to the effect of someone who brings into reality something that’s seemingly new, rather than inventing.”

This story first appeared in the October 31, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Given his newfound expertise, was there an innovation that had occurred in his lifetime that he now couldn’t imagine living without?

“I can’t imagine living without…1stdibs,” he said of the fine art auction Web site, before reconsidering. “No, that’s not really good. Well, tonight I can’t imagine living without dried cherries infused with apple juice from Whole Foods. I’m totally addicted to them and shouldn’t be eating them but they’re really delicious…they’re not an invention but they’re an innovation.”

A little while later, Jonathan Safran Foer took a stab at it.

“It’s awfully hard to imagine oneself without the Internet,” the author said. “That’s not to say that I’m always grateful for it. I’m not sure it’s made life at all better, but at this point it’s very hard to imagine living without it.”

The author was there, despite his vehement vegetarianism, to present the food award to Chipotle founder Steve Ells. (He only ever orders the vegetarian burrito at the restaurant, he said.) Foer joined a relatively small but well-curated group of creatives including Jason Wu, Courtney Love and Julian Schnabel at the inaugural dinner. Marina Abramovic both presented to and accepted for the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei; Tom Sachs handed out the technology award to Elon Musk; TED conference founder Richard Wurman gave the architecture trophy to Bjarke Ingels.

Carl Icahn closed the night by accepting the philanthropy award on behalf of his fellow billionaires who had agreed to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge from WSJ editor Deborah Needleman.

“I’m not quite sure why I’m here; that really is the truth,” the ultradry financier said to laughs. A few sounded appreciative.

“I don’t know any of those other 69 guys that you see flashing up on the screen,” Icahn went on. “Actually I do know Buffett and Gates a little bit, and I met Mr. [Sidney] Kimmel tonight, which was really good because I found him enlightening about the movie business. I was told I was going to accept the award about three hours ago, at least my secretary told me then. You know this group, this giving group, have these get-togethers every once in a while. I’m sort of a workaholic so I don’t travel very much. But [tonight] was only two doors down, so I figured I’d come over and see what it’s all about.”

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