IN REALITY: Leading her seven-year-old daughter through the Dress For Success gala crowd Wednesday night, Bethenny Frankel asked, “What do you think, Bryn? Fancy, right?”
With more than 800 attendees at the Cipriani Wall Street dinner, Bryn Hoppy had a lot to take in en route from the red carpet. But the founder and chief executive officer of Skinnygirl wanted her daughter to remember more than the glittery Adrianna Papell dresses worn by the DFS ambassadors.
Before honoring the “Real Housewives” star with this year’s Humanitarian award, DFS chief executive officer Joi Gordon spoke of efforts in 30 countries, a new DFS app, international interview boot camps, a Walmart-funded retail trajectory program through 20 U.S. affiliates. In its fourth year as a partner, Talbots recently raised more than $1.1 million in donations from its shoppers in six weeks. Coupled with a $250,000 donation from Talbots and a collection curated by Talbots and O Oprah magazine, “Dress for Success is on its way going strong, going places this year.” Gordon said. (Talbots’ ceo Lizanne Kindler, and O’s top triumvirate — Jayne Jamison, Lucy Kalin and Adam Glassman — were on hand for the festivities.)
The room fell silent, when Kara Burns, a beneficiary of the B Strong program Frankel set up through DFS, described her first trip to a DFS boutique and “having a meaningful conversation” about what her personal brand was. “I remember sitting across from this woman and I’m like, ‘Lady, I don’t have a brand.’ She’s trippin’. I just got released from federal prison, my teeth are jacked up, I’ve got a long criminal history. What is she even talking about?” Burns said. “But guess what? She sat across from me and treated me like I had a purpose. I will never forget walking out of there and the confidence that I felt, because she believed in me first.”
Jaynee Berkman accepted Adrianna Papell’s Corporate Citizen award and FCB’s global chief creative officer Susan Credle was honored with the Impact & Innovation award.
Gordon detailed how Frankel helped DFS women in Houston after Hurricane Harvey and flew there to help. She also chartered a plane, loaded with her own donations and raised additional funds for earthquake victims last year in Mexico, where DFS also has an office. After Hurricane Irma struck Puerto Rico, Frankel rounded up 50 million lbs of aid (by her own estimate) and coordinated 55 private planes to transport the goods there. “Somewhere along in the process I realized I was treating it like a start-up business. You can’t wait for somebody to tell you what to do, get your business planned organized and check all the boxes.” Frankel said later. “I’m not worthy of an award. I just did what I have the skill set to do and treat it like a business.”
When her daughter Bryn Hoppy started to fade and decided to retreat from the stage, Frankel said approvingly. “Know thyself. Man and woman must know their limitations.”
Frankel was less accepting of the pace of pledging earlier though, taking to the stage unannounced to promise $50,000. “Don’t you know who the other rich people in this room are? Where are they? If you are liquid more than five to 10, raise your hand or stand up. Nobody’s willing to? I’m not doing a tax return so just stand up, raise your hand and say that you are giving 10 grand” she said. “OK, let’s start slow. Who is giving $5,000? What about the people in the back? You’ll be seated in the front next year. I’m single. Are there any single men who want to give $5,000 for a date with me, a lunch or anything like that? There is no shame in my game. I know how to work this…Oh, there’s a gentleman [bidding] 5,000. Are you videoing me? You, you’re going to give 5,000. I’ll give you another video later for another five.”