Following his resignation Tuesday as New York City’s schools chancellor at a City Hall press conference, Joel Klein traveled a few blocks south to Cipriani Wall Street to present designer Marc Ecko with an Emery Award at the Hetrick-Martin Institute’s annual benefit.
Klein praised Ecko as someone who is “passionate about making this a more tolerant, more inclusive” city, in relation to his philanthropic efforts, particularly HMI’s Harvey Milk High School, which serves at-risk gay, lesbian and transgender students seeking a safe educational environment.
“It still saddens me that something that is doing such an important job for kids like the Harvey Milk School is controversial,” said Klein.
Ecko, co-founder and chief creative officer at Marc Ecko Enterprises, got to know Klein over the years through his own volunteer educational initiatives, including Sweat Equity Enterprises, an after-school program that gives students real-life work experience. Ecko is also on the board of Big Picture Learning, an operator of charter schools, and an adviser to Harlem Success Academy.
“The Harvey Milk School is not exotic,” Ecko told the crowd, which included a heavy fashion contingent from Emery Award sponsors such as Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., Macy’s Inc., G-III Apparel Group Ltd., Kellwood Co., Calvin Klein Inc. and Perry Ellis International Inc. “Learning cannot happen in a hostile environment.”
Also honored with an Emery Award was Arianna Huffington, who was presented her award by Suze Orman, and “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy, who was serenaded by Matthew Morrison, one of the show’s stars.
“There is an original episode of ‘Glee’ on tonight, and every gay man in New York City is in this room, so I’m very afraid of the ratings tomorrow,” said Murphy.
Huffington let loose with a political harangue centered on gay rights issues, urging President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to “find their spines” and repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
In other news of interest to the “Glee” demographic, Madonna’s next fashion venture will be a lingerie line, likely called Truth or Dare, said Neil Cole, chairman and chief executive officer of Iconix Brand Group Inc., confirming a Feb. 16 report in WWD. “We are aiming for a fall or holiday launch next year,” said Cole, who was seated next to Ecko. He added that a name for an upcoming activewear label from the pop star had not yet been finalized.