Beauty and fashion industry executives recently arrived at the Four Seasons Restaurant to help generate more than $600,000 for Love Heals, the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education.
The 2014 gala honored John Demsey, group president of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and chairman of the MAC AIDS Fund; Dannijo’s Danielle Snyder and Jodie Snyder Morel, and Bronson van Wyck, founder of Workshop of the World and Van Wyck & Van Wyck.
“This is an amazing organization, and MAC has been involved with it since 2000, for 14 years, and funnily enough I actually vaguely knew Alison Gertz back in the day when I first came to New York,” said Demsey, who said he recalled meeting Gertz at Studio 54. “They’ve been asking me for a long time to do something with the event, and I was thrilled to be able to do so.”
When asked why this was the year he agreed to be honored, Demsey grinned, “Dini von Mueffling [one of the event cofounders] has a lot of perseverance.”
All kidding aside, Demsey said, “It’s a very worthy organization. They have incredible outreach to young girls, they do great work in the city and inner city, and I love the positive spirit they surround everything with. For something that’s not a very happy topic, they’ve managed to put a lot of love in. It’s a beautiful event, and it’s the part of the job that makes it all worthwhile.”
During cocktail hour, executives like HSN chief executive officer Mindy Grossman chatted about their respective businesses.
“What we are seeing as the trend in our business is we have to be much more like an editorial network. So I’m trying to change all the programming to be as editorial as possible,” said Grossman, alluding to her Thursday night show “Beauty Report,” which she said has been driving sales. “It’s taken on a life of its own, and now we’ve done live audience and its our highest viewed, highest social engagement [program]. It’s our favorite thing.”
Grossman went on to discuss how this year’s truncated winter and spring seasons are affecting business, and shared HSN’s renewed focus on indie brands.
“We are looking to always maximize the productivity of our core brands, some of which have been on the network for 20 years,” she said, underscoring that new brand discovery has been a key focus at HSN. “Were looking to grow emerging brands that we think have growth potential. And were always looking to launch new, exciting products that can grow into bigger businesses.”
Theo Spilka, vice president of new business development and licensing worldwide at Firmenich, also spoke over canapés and cocktails to WWD about the wild success of the One Direction franchise.
“Our One Direction business is absolutely through the roof. It set all new records, and it’s only now just rolled out to mass,” he said. “It blew away Bieber many months ago, and Bieber had set new records when it launched. It totally revived the category. This has broken all records internationally.”
When asked to why he thinks the group’s scent has emerged as a blockbuster, Spilka said it is due to its broad appeal.
“It’s the fact that they’re based in Europe and the fact that this was the only time that a five-group on one product in women’s could work like it did,” said Spilka, about the business which insiders estimate has generated more than $70 million wholesale globally. Spilka declined to comment on numbers.
The evening, emceed by InStyle’s Hal Rubenstein, drew the likes of Rachel Roy, Kelly Rutherford, Kyle Maclachlan, Geraldo Rivera, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Natalie Morales, Alina Cho, Sophie B. Hawkins, Coco and Arie Kopelman, Julie Macklowe and Mary-Louise Parker, who brought friend and stylist Jeff Mahshie as her plus-one.
“We [Parker and Mahshie] met at Giorgio di Sant’Angelo when I was like 22 or 23 and I didn’t even know what to wear to the Tonys, and we’ve been friends ever since,” said Parker, in a late-Sixties era Anne Klein Studio silk cocktail dress. Parker then gave a shout-out to her charitable initiative, which helps escaped child soldiers in Uganda via Omaze.com, adding that she and Mahshie have made it a habit of supporting each other’s favorite charities. Mahshie noted, “She’s been a friend and muse for a very, very long time.”