The recipients of the 2010 Accessories Council Excellence Awards, who will be honored tonight in Manhattan, are industry leaders who share powers of creativity, innovation and commitment.
Alber Elbaz, Designer of the Year
Alber Elbaz has designed for Geoffrey Beene, Guy Laroche, Yves Saint Laurent and Krizia. But his work as creative director of Lanvin has been the grandest showcase for his talents.
Accessories have played a key role in all of Elbaz’s collections since his debut during the fall 2002 season, with price points known to sometimes venture into the several thousands. He abides by a strict luxe-but-wearable aesthetic — whether it’s decadent resin baubles, handbags with chain detailing or shoes in shocking hues of pink and yellow.
A diffusion line with H&M premieres this month, and will include jewelry, hats, sunglasses, handbags and footwear. “It’s very Lanvin. It’s very much our world, our aesthetic,” Elbaz said of the collection.
Rachel Rachel Roy, Brand Launch of the Year
Rachel Roy launched her eponymous sportswear collection in 2004. Five years later, eager to add to her portfolio, Roy created Rachel Rachel Roy, a moderate-price contemporary lifestyle brand, saying it was “the younger sister to the Rachel Roy collection.”
Rachel Rachel Roy, which is sold exclusively at 85 Macy’s locations, consists of sportswear, dresses, footwear, jewelry and handbags retailing for $59 to $299.
“I wanted the collection to be ‘affordable’ but never give up aesthetic or style,” she said. “Rachel Rachel Roy has also been a great opportunity for me to work with extremely talented artists…[singer] Estelle on a jewelry capsule collection, and more recently, with Jessica Stam, on a capsule collection of classics, this fall.”
When launching the collection, Roy said, “I honestly did not know what to expect other than, if I love it, other women will, too. This business is about gut, emotion and passion. That does not change for me no matter what project I am working on.”
Maria Sharapova for Cole Haan, Brand Collaboration
Cole Haan signed tennis champion Maria Sharapova in 2008 to be the face of its Cole Haan Sporting collection. A year later, her role became much more than that.
“Maria is, first of all, a very creative woman and has a style of her own,” Dave McTague, Cole Haan chief executive officer, said earlier this year. “She’s an exceptional woman on and off the court. Going forward, Maria is a very key instrument and partner for us to expand our brand globally.”
The brand has upped its profile this year, hiring photographer and blogger Todd Selby to create its advertising campaign. The latest collection is more trend-focused, with over-the-knee boots and lace-up sandals. Sharapova said she was inspired by corsetry and the weave of tennis rackets.
“I travel around the world and am inspired by so many different things,” Sharapova said. “People walking around in Japan; Paris, seeing how girls and women wear their accessories and their clothes. I really learn a lot about what’s important to them and what comfort is.”
Tiffany & Co., Hall of Fame
Tiffany & Co. began 173 years ago as more of an emporium, with “a little bit of jewelry, stationery, fancy goods, objects for the home,” said Linda Buckley, vice president of public relations. In the 1880s, founder Charles Lewis Tiffany began buying French estate jewelry, and purchased the Tiffany yellow diamond, laying the groundwork for the company.
In 1940, the jeweler moved from its lower Broadway location to its famed flagship at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, and it has been immortalized since in literature and on film. The company branched into watches, pearls, eyewear and specialty sterling silver gift items. Tiffany, which now operates 200 stores globally, recently launched handbags with the help of designers Richard Lambertson and John Truex.
Tiffany plans to press on with international expansion, and focus on emphasizing its new iPad app, watch and leather collections and new high jewelry salon, Buckley said. “The brand will continue to move forward…without losing sight of what goes in that little blue box.”
Henri Bendel, Retailer of the Year
Henri Bendel keeps a spotlight on accessories such as handbags and jewelry.
Started in 1895 by Henri Willis Bendel in Manhattan, the retailer gained a reputation as a haven for independent designers by establishing “Open Sees,” in which face time with a buyer — and possible inclusion in the store — was granted on a first-come, first-serve basis. That’s how standout talents such as Stephen Burrows, Zoran, Zandra Rhodes and Mary McFadden were discovered.
Bendel’s further set itself apart through its “Street of Shops” floor plan in which separate categories such as beauty, handbags and jewelry, were housed in separate enclaves on the same floor.
After being purchased by Limited Brands in 1985, Bendel’s has focused on accessories and beauty, enticing a new generation of shoppers, as evidenced by its attention from the characters on TV’s “Gossip Girl.”
Al Berg, Marchon, Business Visionary Award
Al Berg, ceo of Marchon, began his career in the optics industry in 1982 at Avant Grade Optics. When the company was sold to Luxottica the next year, Berg, along with Jeff White and Larry Roth, launched Marchon.
Commenting on his goals, Berg has said: “Our strategy has been very clear. We only work with the biggest and the best [brands] so that we have large sales, economies of scale, and we can win the battle between having a great brand name and excellent value of product.”
Marchon designs and produces fashion brands such as Karl Lagerfeld, ck Calvin Klein, Calvin Klein Collection, Fendi, Alexander Julian, Nike, Coach, Allure Eyewear, Oscar de la Renta, Emilio Pucci, Nike, Sean John, Coach, Michael Kors, Michael Michael Kors and Nautica.
QVC, E-tailer of the Year
Though known for its television “trunk shows,” which began in 1986, QVC now generates 32 percent of its sales through its Web site, qvc.com, which launched in 1996.
Doug Howe, QVC’s executive vice president of multichannel planning and merchandising, said, “A lot of people think of us as a TV shopping network, but we’re a multiplatform company.…Well over one-third of our business is done off air, through the Internet, mobile platforms,” including a new iPad app.
QVC has showcased designers such as Diane von Furstenberg, L’Wren Scott and Andrea Lieberman, among others. Most recently, QVC launched clothing from the Kardashian sisters, Rachel Zoe, Erica Davies and “Mad Men” costume designer Janie Bryant, as well as jewelry by Shoshanna Gruss and Judith Ripka, and Melania Trump.
Lauren Bush, FEED, Humanitarian Award
Lauren Bush has been involved with the U.N.’s World Food Program since a 2004 trip with her family to Central America for a fact-finding mission on the organization’s behalf. In 2006, Bush launched FEED, a line of burlap totes that benefit the same U.N. program. The bags were first sold on Amazon.com and are now available at Whole Foods, Polo Ralph Lauren, Harrods, Kenneth Cole, Barnes & Noble and Bergdorf Goodman, priced from $25 to $60. The purchase of one of the handbags provides the money for a year of lunches for one child in Africa.
Bush believes FEED’s success derives from its “innovative approach to philanthropy.…Each bag gives a very specific amount that has a very specific impact, and I think customers respond to the notion of giving so tangibly through a consumer product.”
Kim Hastreiter, Marylou Luther Award for Fashion Journalism
With a budget of just $4,000, Kim Hastreiter founded Paper magazine in 1984 with David Hershkovits. Twenty-six years later, the downtown monthly lifestyle magazine has an international readership and Internet presence.
Hastreiter, known for her signature red specs, has an ability to identify new creative talent and she uses her publication to showcase those who are emerging fashion, design, entertainment and art.
She sees herself as a communicator.
“I’m an artist, and, in a way, I really kind of made this job up for myself so I could apply my creativity to all of these different things — to communicating,” Hastreiter said earlier this year. “I love connecting creative people with other creative people and then I love to see the explosion of what happens.”