Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — Whether it gets chalked up to the recent hot streak for accessories, the fact that this year’s honorees were all women or simply heartfelt goodwill, the 11th annual Fashion Accessories Benefit Ball brought out a large and boisterous crowd topping 1,000 at its annual gala Tuesday evening at the Marriott Marquis.
Robert Friedlander, vice chairman of the event, said, “This year will be our largest single year ever, with in excess of $450,000 expected to be raised when the final tally is completed.”
The room certainly had a buzz. Maybe it was because so many guests couldn’t contain their excitement about the category’s high-flying success, but even during the short and snappy awards presentations — despite the fact that the room was miked, people practically hollered their speeches — the presenters and honorees could barely be heard over the roar of people talking and wandering about the room during the program.
Divisional merchandise managers Margaret Myers and Laurie Black accepted Nordstrom’s award as Retailer of the Year. Myers credited the Nordstrom buying and merchandising teams with elevating the accessories arena to one with volume that now rivals the company’s famed footwear franchise.
Upon accepting her FABB achievement award, Victoria & Co.’s vice chairman, Patricia Stensrud, said the industry “survived grunge and prevailed over minimalism because we’ve returned to listening to our consumer.”
In a subtle dig at the myriad chargebacks stores inflict on vendors, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Elaine Gold said, “Success is based on creativity, not accounting, and the right product still drives the business.”