Margaret Hayes, President, The Fashion Group International, Inc., addressed more than 400 attendees, noting that the event was a special day, as it marked the 20th anniversary of the Annual Rising Star Awards, and also welcomed “perhaps the most exciting keynote speaker ever, Whoopi Goldberg.”
The awards recognize achievement in beauty and fragrance, both corporate and entrepreneurial; accessories; home furnishings – product innovation; fine jewelry; men’s apparel; retail; and women’s apparel, and support FGI’s mission to promote the careers of both seasoned and emerging talents.
Nominees are proposed by the Rising Star Creative Committee, FGI Board, members, and friends in the fashion, beauty and design communities. FGI’s board of directors and committee members use a numbered scale to rate creativity and innovation. Finalists are determined by numerical scores and then move to the second and final round of voting, from which winners are chosen by the FGI membership.
A Keynote for All Seasons
Hayes introduced Keynote Speaker, Whoopi Goldberg, as “one of the few performers to win every major entertainment award, including an Oscar, Tony, Grammy, and two Emmys, as well as two Golden Globe Awards, a Drama Desk Award, and three People’s Choice awards,” welcoming her as an “actress, comedian, television host, and human rights activist.”
“I’m fashion’s worst nightmare and you’re probably wondering why I’m here,” said Goldberg, who stated that she was truly happy to be in a room filled with young people, who are the hope for the future, and whose creativity would change fashion. “Fashion is not predicated on how thin you are, but on how good you want to look,” she said. Goldberg alluded to her venture into fashion last year, with her concept and design of the ugly sweater collection, a line of quirky Christmas sweaters made of wool, cashmere, and cotton, which featured prints and designs that expressed her humor and style.
Goldberg noted that she enjoyed the venture. “I designed an ugly sweater and I realized how difficult it is. I had a liking for it, but you have a passion for it. Fashion without passion is beige. Please don’t make us beige. So do it. Do kick-ass stuff. Someone will wear it,” she said. “Don’t lose your passion, it’s rare to find it.”
Referring to today’s environment, Goldberg said, “It’s going to be a little rocky for a while, but people always need to feel good and that’s where you come in. In the strangeness that may or may not come, do whatever you can to make it better. Smile at people. I smile at people. We can have that connection. We’re not all the same and that’s what makes us interesting. So do it without evil, do it with goodness in your hearts. Cherish these moments, get in it, swim in it, then share it.”
Regarding the role of inner beauty in our daily lives today, Goldberg said, “We need to continue to look within ourselves.” Indeed, self-reflection, passion, and paying it forward were unifying threads at this year’s awards luncheon. In presenting Whoopi Goldberg with FGI’s Spirit of Rising Star Award, Margaret Hayes took the opportunity to share Whoopi Goldberg’s own inspiring words, “I am the American dream. I am the epitome of what the American Dream basically said. You could come from anywhere and be anything you want in this country...and that’s exactly what I did. I am where I am because I believe in all possibilities.”
Category Award Winners
Accessories Award, presented by Roopal Patel, to Allison Mitchell, of Allison Mitchell LLC. Nominees included Aimee Kestenberg - Aimee Kestenberg Elan; Freida Rothman - Freida Rothman; From the Road - Susan Easton; Mr. - Heather Hubbard; Samuel Hubbard Shoe Company - Bruce R. Katz; Tarryn Simone LLC – Tarryn Simone.
Beauty and Fragrance Corporate Award, presented by Linda Wells, to Kia Ragland, of Smashbox Cosmetics. Nominees included Firmenich – Alexandra Besnard; International Flavors & Fragrances – Chiaki Nomura; MAC Cosmetics – Cate Powell.
Retail Award, presented by Julie Wainwright, to Jennifer Bandier, of Bandier. Nominees included byReveal – Megan Berry; and S’Well – Sarah Krauss.
Fine Jewelry Award was presented by Amanda Weiner Alagem, to Dana Bronfman – Dana Bronfman. Nominees included 64 Facets – Gourav Soni; Meredith Marks – Meredith Marks; Misahara Jewelry – Lepa Galeb-Roskopp.
Beauty Fragrance Entrepreneur Award was presented by Bobbi Brown to Isabel and Ruben Toledo, for their Hot House Beauties Fragrance Collection by Isabel Toledo. Nominees included Artis – Matthew Waitesmith; Farmacy – Mark Veeder; Milk Makeup – Zanna Roberts Rassi; Strange Love NYC – Elizabeth Gaynes; and The Riddel Group LLC – Holly Riddel.
Menswear Award was presented by Eric Jennings to Peyman Umay, of Peyman Umay LLC. Other nominees in this category included David Hart – David Hart; Garciavelez – Carlos Garciavelez; and Stephen F – Stephen Ferber.
Home Furnishings and Product Innovation Award was presented by Aerin Lauder to Gabriel Handler and Jeremy Anderson, of Apparatus. Nominees in the category included Roll & Hill – Jason Miller; and Yield – Andrew Deming and Rachel Gant.
Hilldun Business Innovation Award was presented by Gary Wassner to Christine Hunsicker, of Gwynnie Bee. Ms. Hunsicker accepted her award via video recording, noting that her business had happily served a largely underserved market of women, with sizes ranging from 10 to 32. Gwynnie Bee has created a collection for this market, recognizing the need for innovation in this space.
Womenswear Award, was presented by designer, Prabal Gurung, to the two winners who tied in this category. The first award went to Alejandra Alonso Rojas, of Alejandra Alonso Rojas; and the second to Claudia Li, of Claudia Li. Other nominees included Jeffrey Dodd – Jeffrey Dodd; Ji Oh – Ji Oh; Protagonist – Georgia Lazzaro; Romeo Hunte New York – Romeo Hunte; and Wai Ming – Emily Brady Koplar.
Diverse Beauty and Fashion
Designer, Prabal Gurung, acknowledged Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Bobbi Brown, and Linda Wells for “their fabulous examples in the beauty and fashion industries,” and applauded the fact that the nominees had created collections for a diverse range of women, citing a combination of passion, art and achievement as hallmarks of this year’s award ceremony.
Winners in all categories acknowledged the importance of their teams and expressed gratitude for the encouragement they received along the way. Among the fashion award recipients, Menswear winner, Peyman Umay, said he honored he was to accept his award from “such an amazing organization as FGI. Everybody called me a dreamer, and here I am. There are two things that you need to have, and they are your beliefs and your values,” said Umay.
Among the beauty winners, Kia Ragland, of Smashbox thanked her team, and noted that The Estée Lauder Companies and Smashbox had given her great opportunities. “Even when I created a bright color like Punch, they welcomed it, and it became a big hit,” said Ragland.
Likewise, Isabel and Ruben Toledo shared their enthusiasm for breaking the mold with their fragrance collection, sold exclusively at Lane Bryant. Their fragrances are deeply personal, unique scents of the tropics, filled with magic, love, and joy as hallmarks of the collection. This first time collaboration between the Toledos and Lane Bryant, followed the debut of the Isabel Toledo fashion collection for Lane Bryant.
Imagined by the Toledos and developed with Givaudan, the scents include botanical characters, Kuba Rose, a fruity gourmand; and Crystal Honey, a floral musk; and the newest additions, Isabel, Isabel, blending Night Blooming Jasmine, Myrrh and Ashoka Tree Flower, and Pink Putti, which combines Mango, Pink Dragonfruit, Vetiver Haiti Opur®, and Sandalwood. Isabel and Ruben thanked their Givaudan family, noting how they had broadened their own, and quoted their friend, Karl Lagerfeld, who said, “It’s never too late to start rising.”
Hayes explained that members represent all industry classifications and their vote reflects a microcosm of the consuming public. She added, “While talent is a special ability, it can only be fully realized through strength of character, selfless commitment of time, energy, resources and relentless drive. You are all to be congratulated for the passion that has brought you to this moment. The industry’s future is secure because of your talent and creativity.”
Hayes thanked the event sponsors, including Hearst Magazines, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the Hilldun Corporation; the Movado Group, for creating and donating the awards, John Sano for design of the step and repeat wall, as well as the event’s presenters, including Amanda Weiner Alagem, Neil Blumenthal, Roopal Patel, Bobbi Brown, Prabal Gurung, Eric Jennings, Aerin Lauder, Julie Wainwright, Gary Wassner and Linda Wells, and former Rising Star Winners, Monica Rich Kosann and Catherine Smith.
Additional information about The Fashion Group International, Inc., and its programs and events, may be found at: www.fgi.org.