“I’m no size 4 and I don’t even want to be,” professed model and body positivity evangelist Emme as she opened up the festivities at the 2019 Femmy Awards.
She set the theme for the night as she addressed the crowd of 600 at Cipriani 42nd Street on Monday — diversity, inclusiveness and supporting students entering the intimate apparel industry.
“I love being a voluptuous woman,” said Emme, among the first plus-size models. “Embracing body diversity, challenging young designers to step out of their size 4 mentality, and giving them tools like full-size mannequins is groundbreaking news in many ways.”
The Femmy Awards, sponsored by The Underfashion Club, promotes industry and student education and recognizes industry leaders in the intimate apparel sector. The Underfashion Club is a not-for-profit charitable organization established to provide intimate apparel leaders with a forum for ideas and information and to support the market. Over $800,000 was raised on the evening.
The “lifetime achievement award” went to Dillard’s executives Mike Freville and Chris Melton. “My career over the past many years has not been anything out of the ordinary,” said Freville. “You see, my success has not been from anything I have done, but has come from the people that I have been surrounded by.”
Melton added one of her favorite quotes: “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes time. Vision with action can change the world.”
Kohl’s copped the retailer of the year, which was accepted by Suzanne Dawson, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of women’s intimate and active apparel. “I have spent more years than I care to admit in the retail industry. I have been responsible for merchandising multiple categories at several different companies over the years,” said Dawson who then spoke fondly of her grandmother who managed a small lingerie shop, Petticoat Lane, in Geneva, Ill. “Bras and panties were kept in plastic drawers behind the counter and beautiful sleepwear and robes were side hung by color story along the opposite wall,” said Dawson. “My grandmother had three daughters and seven granddaughters and we all benefited from her love and knowledge of the product. My mother and aunts loved that they could look forward to stylish lingerie birthday gifts like Vanity Fair leopard-print Goddess gowns or beautiful color-blocked caftans.” But Dawson was less than enthusiastic. “While our friends were receiving toys or $10 bills for Christmas, we received Warner’s ladybug-printed hipsters or Maidenform Sweet Nothings bikinis.
“And there was the day our grandmother looked forward to and we all dreaded — the day we were each taken to the shop for our first bra fitting.”
“She loved the relationships she built and the great people who represented the great products she sold in that shop. When I was promoted into my first Intimate ‘tour of duty,’ my grandmother was thrilled.”
Mahesh Amalean, chairman and cofounder of MAS Holdings received Femmy’s humanitarian award. “From the inception of our business, our aspiration was to be a world-class organization, establishing international standards in labor, health, safety and environment.
Femmy’s manufacturing award went to Gelmart International, accepted by ceo Yossi Nasser; the supplier award went to Pioneer Elastic, accepted by Matthew Lam, group chief operating officer; and Tristine Berry received the president’s award.
Students from the Fashion Institute of Technology with intimate apparel concentrations competed for top honors with garments specifically designed for exhibition at the Femmy Awards, and the six finalists were all honored on stage, while their garment, inspired by the body positivity theme, were on exhibit at Cipriani.
The first prize winner was Sierra White for her “Art Nouveau” design; she received a cash award of $6,500 and round-trip airfare, accommodations and complimentary admission to this July’s Interfilière Paris/Salon International de la Lingerie.
The second prize winner, Dorshelle Guillaume, received $5,000 for her “Hollywood Glamour” design. Third prize went to Laurel Yau for “Shadowed Beauty,” with a cash award of $4,000. Finalists (each received $1,500 cash award): Aura Henriquez Alvarez, Breanna Childers and Jessica Trusio. The top three winners were chosen by a panel of industry luminaries.
“Congratulations to the 2019 winners who joined us in these efforts to make this year’s event a tremendous success,” said Tina Wilson, president of The Underfashion Club. “The Femmy Awards is the largest industry event and an essential part of our efforts to support the future of the industry by raising funds to promote education, innovation and growth within the intimate apparel industry.”