NEW YORK — More than 700 guests turned out for a lively Femmy Awards gala held last week at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel here.
The honorees represented a broad cross section of the industry. They were: Barbara Lipton, vice president and divisional merchandising manager at Saks Fifth Avenue; Josie Natori, founder and chief executive officer of the Natori Co.; Karyn Monget, innerwear news editor at WWD, and Rita Mazzella, a longtime intimate apparel fit model.
The gala, which is hosted by the Underfashion Club Inc., drew a diverse crowd of vendors, retailers and industry executives, as well as a brief appearance by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was invited by Natori. Among the guests were Stan Herman, president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America; Michael Gould, chairman and ceo at Bloomingdale’s; Bill Dillard 3rd, director of replenishment at Dillard’s Department Stores; Terri Meichner, vice president of intimates and hosiery at Federated Merchandising Corp., and Mary Krug, vice president and dmm of intimates and hosiery at Neiman Marcus.
Industry executives at the event seemed upbeat about business heading into the fall season.
Bill Girrier, vice president of marketing and sales at Radici Spandex, said he thought business would pick up as fall approaches.
“Overall, I think things are getting better,” he said. “Innerwear is a nice area. It’s getting increased interest, and we have gotten more involved in it.”
Proceeds from the Femmy gala journal are used to support the Underfashion Club’s mission to provide scholarships and training for students of intimate apparel industry executives, said Janet A. Malecki, president of the club. The club, a service organization, also hosts seminars and publishes a quarterly newsletter.
At the awards ceremony, Jennifer DeWinter, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Saks, in introducing Lipton, said Lipton’s “energy and enthusiasm keep intimates at the forefront of everyone’s mind.”
Lipton recalled how she wasn’t terribly thrilled when she began her career as in intimate apparel buyer 15 years ago, but she soon grew to love the industry.
“This is a business that is fun, exciting and very profitable,” she noted.
Bloomingdale’s Gould introduced Natori by describing her “unbridled passion” for the industry and her commitment to her family and to her native Philippines.
In accepting her award, Natori, who founded her business in 1976, said: “The last 25 years have been great, but the best is yet to come.”