NEW YORK — Fashion Group International’s annual Rising Stars luncheon’s intentions might be to expose new designers, but this year organizers actually coddled them.
Presenters in eight categories at the event on Thursday read aloud the detailed biographies of each of the 38 nominees, naming the celebrities they had dressed, the magazines that had featured them, the stores that sold their products and, in one case, an overview of the beauty company Skinceuticals’ benefits plan, which includes an on-site gym, free massages and a profit-sharing plan.
Similarly, presenters were warned not to announce, "The winner is..." but to say "The award goes to..." instead, lest anyone feel like a loser.
"The first thing I’d like to do is send a résumé to Skinceuticals," said duly impressed architect Michael Davis, who won in the category of home and interior design. Or, at least, was presented.
Betsey Johnson, who presented the women’s wear award, had to pull out her bifocal sunglasses — she had lost her reading glasses — to wind her way through the fine print of a list of eight nominees and their histories, becoming entangled in a mess of pronunciation. When she finished, she reached into her blouse and, with a flourish, pulled out an envelope with the winner’s name — Y & Kei — the design team of Hanii Yoon and Gene Kang, who were not present at the event.
"At night, I take my clothes off and all kinds of things fall out," Johnson said. "But I don’t loose anything."
There might also have been an ulterior motive behind the event: to raise funds and attract new members to the trade group. Its Rising Stars event has grown quickly in six years from a small presentation for a few new faces in fashion to a power luncheon for 400 that even attracted Dawn Mello, who now consults for luxury designers.
But at least one nominee in the jewelry category was put out that FGI expected the nominees to pay for the event’s $120 tickets and launched an e-mail campaign on the subject last week. That nominee lost in his or her category, or, rather, were not presented.Others managed to make the best of what they were lacking. Home design journalist Mayer Rus, who presented in the home category, pointed to a coverline from a mock-up of YM, which sponsored the event with Solstiss Bucol, and told Laura McEwen, its publisher, "I would like to get ‘cute hair in 10 minutes.’" (Rus is bald.)
As for the remainder of the crowd, Rising Star awards were also given to Helen Barr of Barr + Barr for accessories, Skinceuticals for beauty, Givaudan’s Cecile Krakower for fragrance, Michael Davis for home and interior design, Anthony Nak for jewelry, Keanan Duffty for men’s wear and Flight 001 for retail.
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