NEW YORK — Spring may have taken a hiatus on Monday, but a handful of designers at the Parsons Benefit and Fashion Show seemed to be in playful spirits nonetheless.
"She is sexy as hell, intelligent as hell and she's an icon of our industry," said Parsons honoree Howard Socol, Barneys New York's chairman and chief executive officer, of the night's other honoree, Diane von Furstenberg.
She was quick to return the compliment. "He is a muscle in the industry, and if you touch his sleeve he has muscles, too," von Furstenberg said in accepting her honor, before adding: "If he can call me sexy, I can say he has muscles."
The two weren't the only ones feeling a tad flirty. Before entering the Grand Hyatt ballroom, Donna Karan took Narciso Rodriguez by the arm and gave him a hearty embrace. "Excuse me, we're having an affair," she joked.
Rodriguez, for his part, couldn't conceal his affection for the two Parsons honorees. "Howard stories are endless," he said. "He always has the funniest one-liners, which he sends to me in e-mails. Diane is like the queen here. I have such admiration for her."
The 60th edition of the benefit brought out designers and other industry heavyweights, including Oscar de la Renta, Polo Ralph Lauren's Roger Farah, Saks Fifth Avenue's Stephen I. Sadove, Burt Tansky of Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman's Jim Gold, Net-a-Porter.com's Natalie Massenet, Chris Benz, Peter Som and Derek Lam.
Alber Elbaz presented Socol with his award. "Mr. Socol asked me to, and I said, 'I do,' and he didn't ask for marriage," said the Lanvin designer, who left just as the graduate fashion show started in order to catch a flight back to Paris.
Meanwhile, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who presented von Furstenberg with her award, called the designer a "reflector of information." Remembering a hiking trip in the rain forest last weekend, he said, "She hikes as she does all things in life — fearlessly."
Not all went smoothly that night, however. During the dinner, panic broke out when jewelry designer Philip Crangi choked on a bite of steak. He was saved after two men gave him the Heimlich maneuver. "I am fine," Crangi said outside the ballroom, where he was being treated by paramedics. Ever the fashion trouper, Crangi returned to the gala and took his seat to applause from the tables around him.That night, von Furstenberg made a pledge of $250,000 to support scholarships at Parsons The New School for Design, and the benefit raised $2 million in total for the school.
Meanwhile, at the gala, Parsons dean Tim Marshall revealed that the school had tapped Simon Collins as its new dean of fashion, overseeing all areas of fashion studies, including those previously handled by Tim Gunn, who joined Liz Claiborne Inc. as chief creative officer. Before joining Parsons, Collins worked at a variety of fashion houses and retail companies, including Polo Ralph Lauren, Zegna, Fila, Marks & Spencer and Nike, where, as creative director for its Asia-Pacific division, he worked on special collaborations with Junya Watanabe and Naoki Takizawa.
Many of the school's graduates are sure to take some of the honorees' guiding words to heart.
"We have a saying at Barneys: 'You need to be cool and you need to be commerce,'" Socol said, adding that young designers should listen to the "suits," and that the suits should learn to be more cool and creative.
Von Furstenberg stressed the importance of remembering that the industry is much about emotion, explaining that a hit handbag or dress doesn't come out of marketing meetings but a designer's feelings.
"And don't waste time," she said. "Life goes fast and, before you know it, you will be standing here, where I am today."
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)