NEW YORK — However singular her first fashion-show sashay may have been in the Sixties, Bethann Hardison was honored Thursday for championing racial diversity for decades.
When the activist and documentarian accepted a Frederick Douglass Medallion from the New York Urban League, two of her prodigies, Iman and Liya Kebede, were the first to bring the crowd to its feet. Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, Angela Davis, Drena De Niro, Audrey Smaltz, Lola Ogunnaike and Shiba Russell listened up as Hardison cited Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Stokely Carmichael as childhood heroes. “These are people who, when I look back, really made a change and weren’t afraid to go up against things. We need to educate people who think they’re educated.”
Hardison, whose modeling days are featured in the documentary “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution,” is working on another documentary called “Invisible Beauty.” In the Eighties, through her own modeling agency, she shaped such careers as Tyson Beckford’s, and founded The Black Girls Coalition to raise awareness about a bevy of issues. Smaltz recalled how she and Hardison once relied on eye contact to orchestrate a Roseland Ballroom fashion show with two backstages, one loud band and no headsets. In recent years, Hardison has challenged the status quo of fashion shows that have overwhelmingly white models.
In presenting the award, Kebede said Hardison has been a confidante and a source of inspiration to Naomi Campbell, Iman, herself and countless others. “My friend Bethann shows what a revolutionary is all about,” she said.
Iman said, “Bethann has said many times, ‘Activism has to stay active.’ That’s true. It’s not something you choose because it’s hip or happening. You have to constantly be active.”
Closing her speech, Hardison shared a different memory. “As Iman said to me many years ago, ‘You never know when they’re going to stop honoring you, so you’d better show up.’”
Dinkins was one who was glad she did. Asked if he knew Hardison personally, he said, “No, but I would like to.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast