Despite being the woman of the hour, Solange Knowles had some trouble getting into the 70th Parsons Benefit on Monday night. No, not the traffic the rest of the guests experienced: her Hummer limo wouldn’t fit inside the parking garage at Pier Sixty in Chelsea. A problem we all have at times, no doubt.
Knowles was on hand — and dressed by Parsons student Shanel Campbell — to be honored by the school, alongside Gucci president and chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri and Farfetch founder and ceo José Neves. The three bravely endured the marathon of an evening, which included (not in order of length) their awards, dinner, several student fashion shows, dance performances, a jazz performance with vocalist and student awards. Oh, and a choral finale for good measure.
“It’s really funny because I’m a university dropout,” Neves said during the cocktail hour of learning he was being honored by the school. “I was doing economics, I was a computer geek — all I wanted to do was program computers, code, code, code all day. I left when I was 19 to start my first business, and then I started developing software for the fashion industry, and that’s when I became a shoe designer, when I was 22. So I actually never had a fashion education — or a computer science education. [Dropping out] is not my advice.”
Onstage, though, advice was aplenty.
“Life doesn’t really follow a straight line most of the time; it certainly did not with me. What I know is that life really leads you in the end to where your heart is,” Neves told the room. “And I think that for all of you here, especially for the students, who are in the beginning of their journey, this is the message I would like to leave.”
Neves also gave the audience a glimpse of the shoe designs he abandoned pre-Farfetch. When it was his turn onstage, Bizzarri gave him a gentle ribbing.
“After I’ve seen the amazing designs of José, of shoes…there is hope for everybody,” he said.
The Gucci ceo spoke of his own inspirations when he was a student ahead of collecting his award.
“There was one, but you won’t remember it. It’s the one who invented this ice cream,” Bizzarri said. “He was able to create this completely new niche in the business that had not existed before. The company he was working for was a privatized company, with no money, but through that he was able to create a lot of cash to fight against the big players. So I was very inspired by this guy.”
The biggest lessons he took away from the ice cream man? “That you can do beautiful things also if you don’t have a lot of possibilities. Everything is possible, you just need to dream a little bit,” he said.
Knowles had arguably the biggest night of all. Between courses she outbid the room for a Dapper Dan customized Gucci experience, clocking in at $27,000 (more than the trip to the Maldives cost).
“When I was ten years old I visited New York City and capri pants with the little slits on the side were all the rage,” she told the room. “I got a pair in three different colors and I went back to Houston, Texas, straight feelin’ myself, walking into school with a little shoulder lean, head high. And them hatin’ a– kids dragged me from one hallway to the next. They asked if it was floodin’ because my pants were so high water. And I learned then and there that I had to figure out a way in life to maintain and preserve my sense of pride when I felt good about what I did or what I represented or created.”
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