You might expect otherwise from a winery, but there are no booze-goggles at Ecco Domani: The California-based vintner has a long history of clear-eyed perceptiveness about young fashion talent. Its Fashion Foundation awards have been supporting emerging designers with much needed grant money for years, and many of the industry’s now established names—Derek Lam, Alexander Wang, and Proenza Schouler among them—have benefited from its largesse.
This year’s crop of winners (for womenswear, Bibhu Mohapatra, Mandy Coon, Marcia Patmos, and Maayan Zilberman and Nikki Dekker for their line The Lake & Stars; for menswear, Kyle Fitzgibbons for Native Son; for accessories, Pamela Love; and for sustainable design, Tara St. James for Study NY) was on hand to celebrate last night, along with alumni like Lam, Erin Fetherston, John Patrick, Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs, and editors and style setters like Julie Gilhart and Sally Singer. One of last year’s winners, Prabal Gurung, presented Bibhu Mohapatra (above, with Lam) with his award. (“His love and my love for Bollywood has cemented our friendship,” the Nepal-born Gurung, who worked for the Indian designer Manish Arora after graduating from New Delhi’s National Institute of Fashion, confided.)
“It has really pumped me with such a rush,” Mohapatra said of his latest accolade. “This award not only gave me confidence, but it also gave me some extra funding to make my product that much better.”
Pressed for advice to the young designers, Gurung modestly demurred. “I am still in the process of rising,” he said, “and I don’t think I am in the position of giving advice to anyone. What I can say is be true to yourself and trust your instincts because you have to just believe in yourself.”