August 21 2014

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5 posts tagged "Fashion Group International Rising Star Award"

Drag Queens, Credit Card Debt, and Fashion’s Rising Stars


Rising Star Winners

“Think of me as sort of a gay male version of Maggie Smith’s character on Downton Abbey,” said Simon Doonan while smiling onstage at Cipriani’s yesterday afternoon. “I’m going to give you some life tips. Rising stars, are you listening?” And so began the 17th Annual Rising Star Awards, an industry event that drew the likes of Anndra Neen’s Annette and Phoebe Stephens, Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa, and NARS’ Sara Zucker to celebrate emerging talent in fashion, beauty, jewelry and accessories, business, and design.

“Thank God for menswear, otherwise I would be freezing my ass off on days like today!” exclaimed Hal Rubenstein before presenting the menswear award to Pyer Moss’ tear-stricken Kerby Jean-Raymond and a very surprised Ian Velardi. “I really didn’t expect to be up here, so I have nothing to say,” offered the former. “But I do want to thank my girlfriend for allowing me to max out all of our credit cards. I promise you that I’m gonna buy you a ring after we pay off Chase, American Express, Capital One, and every other credit union who ever lent us money.”

Honor’s Giovanna Randall later received the womenswear award from a fanny-pack-totting Stephen Burrows, who wore his sunglasses onstage. The accessories prize, meanwhile, was handed to Edmundo Castillo. “Of course you want it, but you never know…” he whispered after leaving the podium.

We have to imagine that, as they left the luncheon, all the event’s guests felt like winners—after all, they had been privy to Doonan’s sacred life tips. His best advice? “Always make sure that you have at least one drag queen in your orbit. They’re very inspiring.”

Photo: Courtesy of Rising Star Awards 

Shining Stars


“At least it’s not snowing this year” was a phrase heard repeatedly at Fashion Group International’s 15th Annual Rising Star Awards luncheon, held today at Cipriani 42nd Street. There were several FGI veterans in attendance, including Catherine Malandrino and past winners Thom Browne, Christopher Coleman, and Monica Rich Kosann (all three were also presenters today), who could remember prior years when the event was held on an especially chilly day. For the Rising Star nominees, however, it was a day full of firsts.

“I have been nominated for a few awards and not ever been in this situation,” Simon Spurr said, sounding quite surprised, as he collected his menswear award from Browne. “Obviously, this one is very special because, well, it’s my first one.” Before Nonoo designer Misha Nonoo picked up her womenswear award (she and Wes Gordon both won in the category in a tie), Nonoo joked, “If I end up having to give a speech, I am not nervous—I just had three bellinis,” she said. “Plus, they e-mailed us last night saying we absolutely had to keep our speeches under one minute.”

She might not have been nervous, but keynote speakers Isabel and Ruben Toledo were feeling the heat before they spoke (maybe that’s because they had more than 60 seconds to talk). “You know, we don’t do this [give speeches] for a living,” Ruben told as he snagged a bite of cake before heading to the stage. Meanwhile, his wife had lost her appetite for the moment. “I can’t eat now, but when I get back, I hope this steak is still waiting for me.” They had no reason to fret—they had plenty of wise words to offer the group. “When you have no budget, you learn to create out of thin air. Pragmatism becomes your best friend and you learn to do very much with very little,” Isabel said. “Whatever you love about what you do, keep on doing it. Don’t lose sight of that, no matter how hard things get.”

Photo: Ryan McCune /

Rising Star, Wes Gordon


The night before Wes Gordon was set to make his New York debut, it seemed fate might be against him. “It was September 2010 and there was a horrible blizzard that night—I kept looking out the window every 30 seconds to see if the snow was sticking,” he tells The snow wasn’t the only thing that stuck that season—Gordon, a Georgia-born Central Saint Martins grad, made a lasting impression on the editors and designers (including one of his mentors, Oscar de la Renta) who trudged through the arctic weather to see what he had to offer. (Of his first collection,’s Nicole Phelps said, “With their smart cut and perfect fit, those pieces looked like the work of a seasoned pro.”) Just a few seasons out, Gordon is still wowing the fashion set with his luxe offerings (“my all-time favorite is Hermès, but I think the bar is set by Chanel,” he says), an aesthetic that can surely be attributed to his summers spent working under de la Renta and Tom Ford. Most recently, the Fashion Group International recognized his work, nominating him for an FGI Rising Star Award along with other womenswear contenders like Ally Hilfiger and Nary Manivong (of Nahm), Joel Diaz and Christina LaPens (of Jolibe), and Miguel Antoinne. Before Thursday’s FGI Rising Star Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street, Gordon (one of the most promising nominees on the list) talked to about everything, and everyone, from Rooney Mara to Tom Ford.

How is your upcoming collection going to expand upon or differ from your last collection?
I know, it’s three weeks from tomorrow! I would say it’s always a continuation. The mood, it’s a little darker this time around than ever before. In terms of attention to luxe materials and elegance, that’s still there like usual.

How exactly is it darker?
It’s darker in a Rooney Mara sort of way—it’s like a blend of Dragon Tattoo and Great Expectations.

Speaking of Rooney Mara, who would you like to see wearing your clothes? Is she the ultimate for you?
The most exciting thing to me is to see strangers, women I have no connection to, wearing my stuff. That’s who I want to see more than anything. Celebrities are really great, but the first time I see a complete stranger in New York in a coat of mine, I am going to give a high five and tackle her. She might call the police. The idea of strangers going to a store and falling in love with my work is so exciting.

Before starting your own line, you learned from a few of the best in the industry: Tom Ford and Oscar de la Renta. Who did you learn more from?
When I was at Tom, they were just doing menswear at the time. Being in both environments you learn so much by osmosis. Tom is very glam and sexy and slick. You learn to be a perfectionist. At Oscar, it’s the drama and beauty of American couture—it’s how you imagine fashion to be. They really are two of the best. Seeing how it all works and happens, at Tom and Oscar, it has merged in my head.

What’s the best piece of advice, in terms of your design career, you have ever received?
When you are a small team making a lot of inventory, it would be easy to look the other way when something is a little off and not entirely perfect, but one thing I learned is, that is the last thing you want to do. The client is so intelligent and the stores are so aware and it’s your name going out there. It sounds silly to say—it would be easy to say, “It’s good enough,” but it has to be perfect every time.

What other young designers do you especially like?
Prabal is amazing and so talented. Going back to Rooney, she looked so good in his dress. Carly Cushnie is also a friend of mine and Michelle Obama looked beautiful in her dress. And Proenza is super-cool but they are pretty big now, so…

You are in good company with a great group of young designers in the womenswear category for the FGI Rising Star Award. What does the FGI Award mean to you?
It’s such an honor, especially in this crazy stressful time, with my show coming up, to find out that I was nominated. FGI is such a great group of amazing people in the industry and I am really flattered.

What’s on the horizon for Wes Gordon?
We have been building a nice base with amazing stores, and each season we grow it. Last season was the first time with knits, I have a line coming out with Jones New York for Bloomingdale’s in March, and I have shoe collaborations (we worked with Manolo Blahnik on shoes for our most recent collection). We are going slowly but in the right way. I want to get more into accessories, increase our ready-to-wear, and I think I might do Resort this time.

Photo: Courtesy of Wes Gordon

FGI’s Rising Stars, François Pinault Awarded France’s Highest Civilian Honor, Aretha Franklin To Marry, And More…


The Fashion Group International announced its 15th annual Rising Star Awards finalists this morning. The list includes Wes Gordon, Nary Manivong and Alexandria Hilfiger of NAHM, Simon Spurr, and Luis M. Fernandez of Number:Lab. Isabel and Ruben Toledo will be the keynote speakers at the January 26 event. [WWD]

Kinder Aggugini, who shows at London fashion week, is designing the costumes for the English National Ballet’s production of The Rite of Spring, debuting in London in March. “I guess it’s a bit like designing a Batman outfit, but in this case there was also a clear vision from one of the most revered British choreographers who created possibly the most successful version of this Ballets Russes piece,” Aggugini says of the project. [Telegraph]

François Pinault received France’s highest civilian decoration, the Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor, on New Year’s Day. Pinault joins a group of distinguished previous recipients, including Bernard Arnault, Christian Courtin-Clarins, and designer Jean-Claude Jitrois. [WWD]

Soul singer Aretha Franklin is engaged. Franklin, who is set to marry William “Willie” Wilkerson in Miami Beach in the summer, is reportedly “considering Donna Karan, Valentino, and the queen of wedding dresses, Vera Wang,” for her dress designer. [People]

Photo: Alessandro Garofalo /

Christian Cota: In Good Company


Last year’s Fashion Group International Rising Star Award winner has been having a rather good time of it lately. Just to pluck an example out of thin air, at random: He designed Michelle Obama’s inauguration
gown. Nice work if you can get it, sure, but all the buzz attending Jason Wu has raised expectations precariously high for the designer who just nabbed this year’s Rising Star—one Christian Cota. A Mexico City native with a pointillist eye for detail and a painterly way with color and drape, Cota is more than ready to rise to the Wu challenge. This season he’s getting a little help with the finishing touches from Lauren Santo Domingo, who is styling the Fall/Winter ’09 collection Cota presents this evening at the Metropolitan Pavilion. “I think you’ll see a new edge to Christian’s always impeccable uptown polish,” notes Santo Domingo. The edge she’s talking about is literal as well as figurative—in keeping with Cota’s geologic inspiration, which led him to fixate on minerals, crystals, and meteorites, the new clothes put a feminine spin on rugged angularity. Will the First Lady bite? Santo Domingo seems to think she should. “As a designer,” she says, “Christian’s talent is that he knows what a woman wants to wear.” Are you listening, Michelle?

Illustration: Courtesy of Christian Cota