Demna Gvasalia, creative director of Balenciaga, was awarded the Creative Spirit Award at the 2019 Celebration of the Creative Spirit, a scholarship benefit gala for Pratt Institute on Tuesday night. Although Gvasalia was unable to attend the event at the Park Hyatt New York, Balenciaga has made a commitment to offer the Black Alumni of Pratt full four-year scholarships to two students.
The annual gala event acknowledges the arts and their influence on the culture, and benefits BAP by raising funds for scholarships and stipends.
Anointed one of the fastest-growing brands at French parent Kering, Balenciaga has seen sales more than double since Gvasalia’s arrival in late 2015, according to market sources. In reporting full-year results earlier this year, Kering noted a “stellar” performance from Balenciaga. Kering chairman and chief executive officer François-Henri Pinault has predicted Balenciaga will top the 1 billion-euro sales mark this year.
Others who were honored Tuesday night were DeMonty Price, president and chief operating, service and values officer at RH, who won Creative Spirit Corporate; artist Frank Stella for the Lifetime of Artistic Excellence Award, and Alexander Smalls, chef, restaurateur and author, who also won the Creative Spirit Award.
The honorary chairs for the event were Douglass Baxter, David N. Dinkins, Carla Hall, Bethann Hardison and Brian Hastings.
African-Americans and Hispanics are still significantly underrepresented in the fields of art and design. The former comprises roughly 8 percent, while the latter composes half of this percentage. In 1990, a group of Pratt Institute alumni established a vehicle for providing financial support and mentorship opportunities for students of African and Latino decent, and The Black Alumni of Pratt was established. BAP’s mission is to advance scholastic and career opportunities for students and graduates of African and Latino descent. Over the course of 28 years, BAP has raised more than $5 million to further efforts to provide for highly talented African-American and Latino students looking to pursue a higher education in the field of art and design.