Byline: David Moin

NEW YORK — “Getting an award for a job that you love to do is really great. It’s like overkill,” said Kal Ruttenstein.
Surrounded by friends, colleagues, wholesalers and designers, Bloomingdale’s senior vice president of fashion direction graciously received the Crystal Star Award at the annual Laboratory Institute of Merchandising luncheon on Friday.
At the Starlight Roof in the Waldorf-Astoria, Ruttenstein was recognized for his contributions to the fashion and retail industries, and for making his mark by knowing what’s hot on the runways and the streets, whether it’s buried in the basements of Alphabet City or flaunted on South Beach.
Some 300 people attended the lunch, raising about $175,000 for LIM’s fashion education foundation. They were witness to a rare Ruttenstein sighting: the legendary fashion director in suit and tie. (The Giorgio Armani suit was offset by silver sneakers.) But Ruttenstein, the nation’s most popular fashion director — and perhaps its wittiest — is always good for a surprise, and as Bloomingdale’s chairman Michael Gould said, “for what’s right for the store and the Bloomingdale’s brand.”
In introducing Ruttenstein, Gould said, “Many, many years from now, on his tombstone they’ll write, ‘He was the teacher — and he was the best.’
“He teaches us how to think differently, how to think beyond, to something new, something exciting, something that is lasting and distinctive. Kal, your contribution is lasting.”
After posing for photographs with fans and friends — for about an hour — Ruttenstein, despite the business attire, kept the mood casual, joking that the last award he remembered getting was when he was a cook at Fort Dix.
“I received an army cookbook with recipes for 5,000. I’ll cherish this award even more.”
Then he thanked many of his friends and his colleagues for making his work so enjoyable and quoted another great teacher, Felix Frankfurter, declaring, “Anybody who is any good is different.”
“If I had charged a dollar to everybody who wanted a picture with Kal, I would have raised more bucks than the luncheon,” said Elaine Gold, LIM’s advisory board chairman.
The event also honored Ann Jackson, group publisher of InStyle and Real Simple magazines.