Courageous fashion, sustainability, crafstmanship, models’ rights, diversity — Tuesday’s Fashion 4 Development First Ladies luncheon was laden with calls to action.
Never mind, there were two runway shows — a tribute to Azzedine Alaïa and another dedicated to Haitian fashion that opened with remarks from Haiti’s first lady Martine Moïse. The main event was F4D’s awards with a long list of honorees including Carla Sozzani accepting the F4D award on behalf of the Alaïa Foundation and Abrima Erwiah picking up the Franca Sozzani award on behalf of her business partner Rosario Dawson.
Guests were surprised to see the F4D Medal of Honor that will be presented to French President Emmanuel Macron at a later date for catalyzing the “Fashion Pact,” a global initiative to fight climate change, support biodiversity and protect the planet’s ecosystems. Valerie Keller, who cofounded Imagine with Paul Polman, the United Nations Global Compact’s vice chair, said that 32 fashion and textile companies — more than 20 percent of the fashion industry — have signed the pact. “Do we have the heart? Do we have the care to fashion something that works differently for everyone?” she asked before noting that women account for many of the industry’s workers. “All of us working together can do it and that’s the point.”
Donna Karan appeared to be all ears throughout the lengthy program at the Pierre hotel in New York. Held during the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly, the event attracted Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel’s husband Gauthier Destenay, as well as Carmen Busquets, Francine LeFrak and others. In welcoming the crowd, F4D founder Evie Evangelou encouraged attendees to go online to read the 17 U.N. Sustainability Development Goals “that are set as the blueprint forward.” “Preventing poverty, [striving for] gender equality, clean energy, tolerance, fairness, clean water and sanitation, health and education, climate action — it’s everything that we need to sustain our daily lives. We all need to come together in a loud call to action,” she said.
To sound that out, each award recipient received a commemorative bell designed by Helen Yarmak. “Hidden Figures” actor Aldis Hodge served as emcee lining up honorees such as Sterling McDavid and Emily Burnett for the Women’s Champion award, Jacob Abrian for the League of Gentlemen award, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva for the Leading Ladies award and the quartet of Merria Dearman, Harry Josh, Rita Rakus and Anju Rupal. Sara Sozzani Maino, deputy editor in chief of Vogue Italia, will join the F4D’s agent of change group as its newest Goodwill ambassador. Her filmmaker cousin Francesco Carrozzini handled the introduction.
Before the start of the Maison Alaïa show, model Veronica Webb recalled how Alaïa once told her, “Whatever a woman wants, I want my clothes to be part of her success.” As president of the Alaïa Foundation, Sozzani spoke of the importance of opening the doors to young designers to have access to the designer’s work, to learn about his creative processes and possibly work in the studio to understand the craftsmanship. “It is important to respect working with your hands, which is something that society is losing today,” she said. “Azzedine was never happy about his work. He was always thinking that he could do better. Every day he would say, ‘Oh, I can do more. It’s not good enough.’ And in the morning he would get up and say, ‘I’m so happy. I’m so curious. Today I’m going to learn something.’”