ATLANTA — Like the city it celebrated, the Style Atlanta grand finale was a mixture of down home and diversity, Old South and New Internationalism — and a great place to dress up.
The black-tie gala on May 6 at the Ritz Carlton in the Buckhead section ended the first annual Style Atlanta, a fashion and design week intended to raise the city’s profile as a style center and spotlight the design and retail community.
About 500 people attended the $300-per-person event, which benefited the Atlanta AIDS Partnership Fund and highlighted Atlanta’s increasingly diverse, international nature, as awards were presented to style leaders in fields from retail to music to architecture.
Andre Leon Talley, editor at large of Vogue, got the award for international style, while rapper Andre 3000 Benjamin, of Outkast, in tuxedo and skullcap, accepted a prize for music and style.
Paula Wallace, president and founder of the Savannah College of Art and Design, which opened an Atlanta branch in March, accepted the award for impact of design education. She wore a dress designed by a student.
John C. Portman Jr., chairman, the Portman Cos., who helped create much of the city’s skyline, received an award for his impact on the style of architecture. Tom Galloway, dean of the school of architecture at Georgia Tech, Portman’s alma mater, introduced him as “the man who broke the mold at the time, and changed everything in the landscape of cities worldwide.”
Portman, who popularized the atrium as a standard feature of modern hotels, has designed projects from Atlanta’s AmericasMart to San Francisco’s Embarcadero Center and Marina Square in Singapore. Recalling student days as a follower of the Bauhaus movement of modern architecture, Portman said a Georgia Tech professor had cautioned him about infatuation with style.
“Architecture is not about style, which seems so temporal,” Portman said. “Buildings sail through time, and last. They reflect elements of an era, but they have to have the vision of time.”
Portman said in an interview that after decades of growing suburban sprawl in Atlanta and elsewhere, his vision of urban multiuse centers where people live work and play is becoming widely accepted.
Hotels he designed opened in Warsaw and London last year, and Portman has developing projects in Istanbul and Dubai. However, he said, “China is the country with the most potential for the 21st century, followed by India.”
Taking a less lofty view of style was rapper Benjamin. The star of the film “Be Cool” said his style came from “growing up not having anything, and having to make something out of nothing.”
After the event, Benjamin revealed plans to launch an Atlanta-based clothing line for fall 2006, starting with men’s and expanding into women’s apparel.