PHILADELPHIA — Nicole Miller shimmered on stage Saturday night at Philadelphia’s celebrated Academy of Music for The Verizon Philadelphia University Evening of Innovation, where she received the university’s 2013 Spirit of Design Award.
Last awarded to John Varvatos, the honor is presented to designers who have made outstanding contributions to the fashion and design industry through innovation. Previous winners include Geoffrey Beene, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa, Mary McFadden and “Project Runway” season-one winner Jay McCarroll.
Philadelphia University president Stephen Spinelli Jr. opened the night with a video montage replete with Nicole Miller runway reels and red-carpet images of celebrities in her signature form-fitting wares. Bud Konheim, Nicole Miller’s chief executive officer, who won the university’s 2013 Leader of Innovation Medal (which was awarded at the gala later that evening), appeared in the video and spoke of his long-standing partner.
“Nicole is absolutely appropriate for this honor,” Konheim said of Miller. “I mean, look at her fabric innovation. Her latest thing is her stretch metal. It’s a body-camouflage fabric that she’s morphed into plaids and prints. And what about silk noil? It’s the silk scrap that used to fall on the factory floor. She found a way to take those scraps and weave them into a fabric. It was an incredible innovation,” he said with reverence. “A true designer hates the status quo,” he said of Miller’s perpetual ambition to innovate. “Actually, a true designer hates what she just did,” he laughed.
When the video wrapped, Miller came on stage to thunderous applause from the 2,300 students and socialites in attendance. Wearing strappy sky-high, platform prototype shoes that she divulged were from a new licensee (Miller said they’d be in stores in six to eight months’ time, and it was learned the licensee is Antebi), she graciously accepted the honor saying, “I feel like I won the Oscar.”
As for the award itself, “I like the fact that it’s not so much a design award as it is an innovation award. And that’s my strong point,” said Miller. “I’ve always been innovative with technique, my clothing, my fabrications. I’m the first to embrace the new technology, and I’m always really open to innovative ideas. I always feel like those random experimental ideas always look so new that they often turn into something,” she mused.
When it came to advice for the eager graduating class, Miller was to the point. “Don’t get caught up in this world of working in the backroom for celebrities. I’m sure there are going to be a lot of offers for a lot of money to work on so-and-so’s brand of shoes or dresses or whatever. It’s easy to get sidetracked, but don’t. Work hard and stick to your ultimate dream, your purpose,” she advised emphatically.
After Miller accepted the award, she joined Konheim as they watched the capstone fashion show that followed. Student designs ranged from a crop top showing a Rorschach-like skull to a Baroque-inspired autumnal collection of luxe neutral-colored separates, which won Best of Show. The winning collection, designed by Sarah Fitzgerald, also won the Frank Agostino Eveningwear Award for Excellence in Design and Execution; the Chico’s Award for Design Excellence, and Best Senior Collection.
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)