The early bird catches the worm—that saying was certainly appropriate this morning when, before rush hour, a crowd of industry insiders flocked to the Museum of Arts and Design for breakfast to fête the winners of the 11th annual Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation awards. The birds? Designers Tim Coppens, Sunhee Moon’s Sunhee Huang, Titania Inglis, Eighteenth’s Alexa Galler, Haus Alkire’s Julie Haus and Jason Alkire, Correll Correll’s Vera and Daphne Correll, and Dezso’s Sara Beltran. The proverbial worm? $25,000 grants to fund their Fall presentations at New York fashion week, starting next Thursday.
“This is not something I would typically do on a Wednesday morning,” mused Coppens, who launched his menswear collection in April. “I was surprised to win, but it feels really good.” The judges, including former Barneys fashion director Julie Gilhart, Gilt Man’s Josh Peskowitz, and Paper‘s Kim Hastreiter, were all on hand to congratulate the recipients. “We all know how hard it is to get a solid footing in this business,” Peskowitz told Style.com. “This industry requires new people to be able to put forth new ideas, and having this award ensures that process continues.” Meanwhile, retail guru Gilhart bestowed some words of wisdom to the newly coronated designers. “Show up and bring something different to the table,” she advised. Adding, “This is not an award that is about lights, camera, action—it takes time.”
That is certainly true for industry veteran Huang, who has been working on her collection for the past 15 years. “I started crying when I heard the news,” Huang admitted. “I tried to launch the line several times, but it was difficult financially. This is the third time and I feel like it’s the start of my career.”