PHILADELPHIA — Nicole Miller shimmered on stage Saturday night at Philadelphia’s celebrated Academy of Music for The Verizon Philadelphia University Evening of Innovation, where she received the university’s 2013 Spirit of Design Award.
Last awarded to John Varvatos, the honor is presented to designers who have made outstanding contributions to the fashion and design industry through innovation. Previous winners include Geoffrey Beene, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa, Mary McFadden and “Project Runway” season-one winner Jay McCarroll.
Philadelphia University president Stephen Spinelli Jr. opened the night with a video montage replete with Nicole Miller runway reels and red-carpet images of celebrities in her signature form-fitting wares. Bud Konheim, Nicole Miller’s chief executive officer, who won the university’s 2013 Leader of Innovation Medal (which was awarded at the gala later that evening), appeared in the video and spoke of his long-standing partner.
“Nicole is absolutely appropriate for this honor,” Konheim said of Miller. “I mean, look at her fabric innovation. Her latest thing is her stretch metal. It’s a body-camouflage fabric that she’s morphed into plaids and prints. And what about silk noil? It’s the silk scrap that used to fall on the factory floor. She found a way to take those scraps and weave them into a fabric. It was an incredible innovation,” he said with reverence. “A true designer hates the status quo,” he said of Miller’s perpetual ambition to innovate. “Actually, a true designer hates what she just did,” he laughed.
When the video wrapped, Miller came on stage to thunderous applause from the 2,300 students and socialites in attendance. Wearing strappy sky-high, platform prototype shoes that she divulged were from a new licensee (Miller said they’d be in stores in six to eight months’ time, and it was learned the licensee is Antebi), she graciously accepted the honor saying, “I feel like I won the Oscar.”
As for the award itself, “I like the fact that it’s not so much a design award as it is an innovation award. And that’s my strong point,” said Miller. “I’ve always been innovative with technique, my clothing, my fabrications. I’m the first to embrace the new technology, and I’m always really open to innovative ideas. I always feel like those random experimental ideas always look so new that they often turn into something,” she mused.
When it came to advice for the eager graduating class, Miller was to the point. “Don’t get caught up in this world of working in the backroom for celebrities. I’m sure there are going to be a lot of offers for a lot of money to work on so-and-so’s brand of shoes or dresses or whatever. It’s easy to get sidetracked, but don’t. Work hard and stick to your ultimate dream, your purpose,” she advised emphatically.
After Miller accepted the award, she joined Konheim as they watched the capstone fashion show that followed. Student designs ranged from a crop top showing a Rorschach-like skull to a Baroque-inspired autumnal collection of luxe neutral-colored separates, which won Best of Show. The winning collection, designed by Sarah Fitzgerald, also won the Frank Agostino Eveningwear Award for Excellence in Design and Execution; the Chico’s Award for Design Excellence, and Best Senior Collection.
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)