WASHINGTON — It was a good night for American craftsmen. From the art on the walls to its honorees, the annual gala at The Phillips Collection put American works front and center.

This story first appeared in the May 19, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The opulent gala and Seventies glam-themed after party honored designer and photographer Reed Krakoff and American art collector, curator and appraiser Linda Lichtenberg Kaplan for contributions to the worlds of art and design. Krakoff is the first designer to receive The Phillips honor.

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The gala was tied to the museum’s current exhibit, “Made in the USA: American Masters From The Phillips Collection.”

“American art has been a hub of inspiration for me,” Krakoff said before rattling off a laundry list of artists he loved, all hanging in The Phillips’ galleries, and stories about how they worked.

Krakoff said he is most inspired by “the design process of how people did what they did.”

Krakoff, accompanied by incoming company president Stacy van Praagh and several members of his team, said The Phillips has always been a favorite museum because of its personal point of view. Museum founder Duncan Phillips was a dedicated champion of American art.

“There is an immediacy to American work, a spontaneity,” Krakoff said, “always a sense of veracity and straightforwardness.”

Museum director Dorothy Kosinski, Lichtenberg Kaplan and Mariella Trager, cochair of the gala, were all dressed by Krakoff.

“We’ve become his stealth agents,” Kosinski said, noting the threesome’s different ensembles captured each woman’s personality.

More than 400 guests — including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Vernon and Ann Jordan, Atlantic Media owners David and Katherine Bradley, Tony Podesta, Mark and Sally Ein and philanthropists Wayne and Catherine Reynolds — dined at tables set up throughout The Phillips’ galleries. Chef Todd Gray of Equinox created a regional American menu that included Kansas City-style mini pulled pork sandwiches, smoked New York whitefish salad, New Orleans creole cauliflower fritters, Maine lobster boil salad and an herb crusted loin of Pennsylvania bison.

Krakoff noted that Washington is an important market for his brand. While in town, his team checked out existing retail space in the new mixed-use CityCenterDC development, but no specific plans are in place to open a store, he said.

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