Narciso Rodriguez Receives National Arts Club Medal of Honor

Narciso Rodriguez has won the National Arts Club Medal of Honor, and on Friday night, the tony organization threw a party for the designer’s accolade.

The interior of the National Arts Club headquarters, located in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood, had all the comfort and luxury of your wealthy auntie’s living room — that is, if your wealthy auntie was really interested in early 20th-century furniture and artworks by William Ritschel and Philip Leslie Hale. Every wall was made of dark, rich wood and stained glass decorated the ceilings. The rooms, filled with fainting couches and small pieces of china, were fully outfitted for Christmas. Two lit and bulbed trees stood in the rounded windows. Wreaths and pines encircled mirrors on the mantles and poinsettias covered all the fireplaces. Guests wore fur shrugs, ball gowns and tuxedos.

In the middle of all this was the man of the hour: Rodriguez — who was polite, quiet and somewhat shy about his win. The designer celebrated his brand’s 20-year anniversary in 2018, and he had plenty to be proud of. But earlier this year, he admitted during WWD’s Style Dimension that the main thing from his career which he can look upon with pride is his own staying power within the industry.

“It’s a tough business to stay relevant in, to have longevity in,” he said on Friday. “I’m really grateful to be able to do my work. I love making things and making clothes. I’m very fortunate that I’ve been able to continue to do so all these years.

“Years ago, I may have not had a lot invested in awards, but I think being in fashion for so long, it’s lovely when people stop you to say, ‘We like your work, we continue to like your work.’ It means a lot to me.”

To toast the night, the club held a cocktail party and dinner attended by Rachel Feinstein, journalist Cindi Leive and German actress Barbara Sukowa. Rodriguez’s longtime friend, the actress Julianna Margulies, delivered a speech at the event. Beforehand, Margulies remembered the first time she met Rodriguez, in 1998 when she still played nurse Carol on “E.R.” That year, she attended the CFDA Awards with the designer — it was his first red carpet ever, and when he arrived, he was shaking with nerves. To quell his anxieties, Margulies imparted upon him a piece of advice she’d received from Claire Danes years before.

Narciso Rodriguez Receives National Arts Club Medal of Honor

Julianna Margulies and Narciso Rodriguez  Miguel Ammah/Courtesy Photo

“I told him to hum,” she recalled. “I said, ‘If you hum, they just see you smiling, but they don’t hear you.’ And it puts you in a good mood and you look good in every picture.

“I actually still have the coat he made for me when he was at Cerruti. And he made me this gorgeous dress, that I actually just recently gave back to him because he needed it for his archives. But the coat, I still wear and have.”

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