NEW YORK — Despite a shaky economy and tough retail scene, accessories executives were in the mood to party at the sixth annual ACE Awards gala.

More than 400 industry members turned out for the event, which recognizes individuals and companies for their contributions in designing and promoting accessories.

"I am happy to be here in the world of high gross margins and low markdowns," Burt Tansky, chairman and chief executive officer of Neiman Marcus, told the crowd. "Normally, I am in the world of shmatas, with low margins and high markdowns."

Awards were given in six categories: Lulu Guinness won the rising star award for emerging talent, Christian Dior was cited for its advertising campaign and Puma sneakers were named the "It" accessory of the year. In addition, Jane Elfers, president and ceo at Lord & Taylor, was named innovator of the year, while L&T and Neiman Marcus tied to win the retailer of the year award. Tom Ford, creative director behind Gucci Group and Yves Saint Laurent, was recognized as designer of the year.

Burberry received a special Hall of Fame Award, and actress Debra Messing took the ACE Award — an acronym for Accessories Council Excellence.

Messing was introduced by her father,Brian — who happens to be an executive at accessories firm A&H Manufacturing Co. — and she proclaimed her lifelong love affair with accessories.

"I am forever an accessories girl," said Messing, who recounted how she used to receive jewelry and other items from her father after his buying trips to New York. "Some people dream of a trip to Hawaii. I dream of a honey brown Birkin bag."

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