NEW YORK — “We’re here to celebrate anything that snaps, zips, fastens, locks.…” said Hal Rubenstein, his way of starting hosting duties for the 18th annual ACE Awards Monday night. The list extended for several more verbs, and to be fair, he was simply being factually accurate.
The ceremony doled out 12 different awards for accessories excellence, ranging from Specialty Retailer (Alex and Ani) to Business Visionary (Oliver Peoples) — each with its own award presenter (who got his or her own introduction); video, and then acceptance speech. Upon entering Cipriani 42nd Street, honorees — such as Kate Spade New York’s Deborah Lloyd (Brand of the Year); Elle’s Robbie Myers (Marylou Luther Award for Fashion Journalism), and Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez (Designer of the Year) — hit the red carpet. Equally bold-face presenters, such as Dakota Fanning, Coco Rocha, Carolyn Murphy, Nicky Hilton and Jack Huston, also made a quick pit stop on the step and repeat.
Unsurprisingly, the brightest light show of camera flashes came with the arrival of Kerry Washington, who would later accept the Style Influencer award alongside “Scandal” costume designer Lyn Paolo. “We often talk about the final five minutes in our fitting, which is that moment when the look is OK — it’s a great suit, it works — but it’s not quite there,” Washington said in accepting the award. “How we take it from acceptable to exceptional is with the help of all of you guys — whether it’s a Prada purse or Olivia’s Movado watch or gloves or a ring.”
Naomi Campbell, a guest at the Proenza Schouler table, let out a whoop upon the mention of the hit show. She certainly wasn’t the only “Gladiator” in the room, as Washington spent the better part of the evening complying with requests for selfies.
Other attendees, particularly longtime members of the accessories industry, opted to swoon over a different honoree: Rose Marie Bravo. The former Burberry and Saks Fifth Avenue chief executive officer was on hand to accept the Leadership award.
Bravo dedicated her award to Edward S. Finkelstein, former chairman and chief executive officer of R.H. Macy & Co., who died earlier this year. “It was Ed who taught me so much about vision, passion and creating a winning culture,” she said. “He gave me an opportunity of a lifetime. He said, ‘Go West, young lady. You’re going to I. Magnin.’ It changed my life. I would encourage all of you leaders in the room: take a chance. Be bold with someone who may not have every box ticked, but your instincts say he or she may do it. Go for it. Give them a shot. Your expectations will be more than met. Identifying, motivating and rewarding talent — that’s what great leadership is all about.”
Additional honorees included Shinola for Brand Launch of the Year, Bulgari for the Legacy Award and Google Glass, honored for Fashion & Technology. Jaqui Lividini was on hand, alongside Accessories Council president Karen Giberson, to reveal the winner of the first Emerging Designers Competition. The prize, which includes membership to the council and representation for a year from Lividini & Co., was awarded to Jill Fairchild and Karen Baldwin of handbag and jewelry firm Fairchild Baldwin.
Hernandez and McCollough accepted the evening’s final award, presented by Fanning. “When I was in high school, I was nominated for homecoming queen — very exciting,” said Fanning by way of introduction, herself a front-row regular at Proenza Schouler (and notably just a few years out of high school). “I had to find the perfect thing to wear, so that even if I didn’t win, I would look good. I wore Proenza Schouler wedge boots with a suede strap for the occasion and I won. I guess I owe it all to the boots.”
Hernandez and McCollough swiftly collected their award — a custom Judith Leiber minaudière — and hustled off the stage, bringing the evening to a close. Guests filed out while the evening’s Style Icon honoree, Flo Rida, took the stage for an energetic — if scarcely populated — performance.
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