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NEW YORK — The accessories crowd hit the town last week as showroom events and soirees, as well as the annual Fashion Accessories Benefit Ball, were held at venues throughout the city.
This story first appeared in the May 12, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
FABB drew a lively crowd of close to 1,000 executives, buyers and retailers to the Marriott Marquis here. The black-tie event, now in its 14th year, raised more than $700,000 for One World, One Wish, a charity designed to help women and children who are victims of wars, as well as Coalition for the Homeless and No More Homeless Pets NYC. The event also honors companies and designers that have excelled in accessories, and this year’s honorees were Target Stores, R.J. Graziano and Marie Claire magazine.
“I started my business with absolutely no knowledge or experience of anything whatsoever,” said Graziano, recalling how he began in the business 27 years ago. “I am so thrilled to receive this recognition tonight. And I am especially pleased to realize that independent designer companies can actually compete and grow successfully in a crowded branded world.”
The event drew more celebrities than usual, as Raquel Welch, Susan Lucci, Leon Hall and Rue McClanahan all hobnobbed with the boisterous crowd.
“I am starting to fall in love with hats again,” McClanahan told WWD. “Hats complete an outfit.”
Among other events, Item Showroom held a party to launch the new line of Rita Wilcox bags, which incorporate grosgrain ribbon into the design and feature materials such as faux Persian lamb and patent leather, said designer Patty Schmitz.
In addition, showroom owner Cynthia O’Connor and Barry Kieselstein-Cord held an event to celebrate the designer’s silver line, which is now being repped by O’Connor’s showroom. And Helen Welsh held a soiree in her showroom to celebrate her new Primo Firenze collection, which she sources and manufactures in Italy.
“I went to the Florence Chamber of Commerce, and told them I had a showroom and wanted to do something special for the market,” said Welsh. “Buyers aren’t traveling as much, so this Helen Welsh collection is a one-stop accessories resource.”