“Talent is inherent, and it is the capacity for achievement, plus the time, energy, and relentless drive it takes to continue, that characterize these achievers. We’ve seen hundreds of talented individuals come through our portals,” Hayes noted.
She explained that the voting process includes the Rising Star Creative Committee, FGI Board, members, and friends in the fashion, beauty and design communities, and ultimately highlighted the unique characteristics of this event; namely, its devotion to new and emerging talent in the industry. The relationship between a range of disciplines, creative momentum in many forms, and coalescing professional outcomes were all celebrated at this year’s event. . Hayes thanked the event sponsors, including Hearst Magazines, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the Hilldun Corporation, and the Movado Group, for creating and donating the awards, as well as the presenters, which included Rising Star winners of previous years, former fragrance winners, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, and womenswear designer, Jason Wu.
Diverging Paths to Success
In introducing the keynote speaker, Designer John Varvatos, Hayes noted that he exemplifies the philosophy that creativity takes many divergent paths. Having established himself as a designer whose style combines “luxury, timelessness, and function with a Motown influence and a rock ‘n roll sensibility,” Varvatos described his non-linear road to fashion design.
“I will not talk too much about the crazy path we’re on in our country now, but I will emphasize the path that today’s Rising Stars have today, and it’s very different from the one that I have had,” he said. “It gets down to your passion and your dream,” he said.
Growing up in Detroit, which he deemed “not a fashionable city, but an industrial one,” Varvatos said he never thought about fashion until he was in his teens, saying, “I wore something to school one day, and some girls told me how much they loved it. It made me think I needed more of this.”
A stint as a “stock boy” in a men’s store, and another move to the selling floor, started him on his path. However, growing up as one of seven in a small house in Detroit, playing baseball in college, and majoring in pre-med, may not have been the most direct path to fashion design. After graduating with a degree in science and teaching chemistry at the university level, he worked at a menswear store, and was inspired to open his own men’s store in Grand Rapids, Michigan (still open, he noted). A move to Ralph Lauren in New York City, where he became head of sales, set him on a course to becoming a designer, and he began taking classes in design and illustration.
In 1990, he went to Calvin Klein and started the CK brand. “I was a sponge for everything. I didn’t want to be a one-trick pony,” he recalled.
In 1995, Ralph Lauren called him to head up the men’s studio, and in 1999, when he was walking through Barney’s, he had the realization that he wanted to start his own brand, which he launched in 2000.
“The paths we take are ever-winding. In Detroit, although I wasn’t a good musician, I always had a passion to play. In 2005, we started using iconic music in our line, which has become an important part of our brand DNA,” said Varvatos.
He concluded by saying, “Be true to your dreams, your path will take you in winding directions. Don’t be afraid of it, never give up. In this world today, it’s challenging. Believe in your vision. We need the next generation to be better than we were. I congratulate all of you.”
Accessories Award, presented by Kate Lanphear, Creative Director, Marie Claire, to Dr. Marion Parke, for Marion Parke.
Fine Jewelry Award, presented by Kelly Dougherty, to Anna Karlin, for Anna Karlin Fine Jewelry.
Beauty/Fragrance Corporate Award, presented by Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz, to Fanny Bal, International Flavors and Fragrance (IFF).
Home Furnishings/Product Innovation Award, presented by Whitney Robinson, Editor-in-Chief, Elle Décor, to Jacob Laws, Jacob Laws Interior Design.
Retail Award, (a tie), was presented by Robert Burke, to Megan Berry, for byReveal; and to Lisa Lori, for The Perfect Provenance.
Beauty/Fragrance Entrepreneur Award, presented by designers, Ruben and Isabel Toledo, to Mark Veeder, of Farmacy. Accepting the award, was Farmacy Co-Founder David Chung.
Menswear Award, presented by Todd Snyder, to Mike Rubin, of Krammer & Stoudt.
Womenswear Award, (a tie), presented by designer, Jason Wu, to Asher Levine, for Asher Levine; and to Jeffrey Dodd, for Jeffrey Dodd.
The Hilldun Business Innovation Award was presented by Gary Wassner, to Mary Orton and Rich Scudellari, for their creation of Trove.
Innovation, Nature, and Connectivity
Diverging paths were a thread throughout the event. Dr. Marion Parke, echoed Varvatos in that she is a podiatric surgeon, as well as a footwear designer, creating shoes that blend thoughtful construction with style, to meet the needs of women who desire elegant footwear that is also functional. Her designs feature medical grade cushioning that molds to the foot, and arch support, offering customers both luxury and high-performance. Having won in the Accessories category,
“I am a trained podiatrist and I know the path to success is not always in a straight line,” added Parke.
The Retail category also demonstrated different perspectives. In a tie between Megan Berry, founder of by Reveal, and Lisa Lori, The Perfect Provenance, clearly two types of retail experiences were recognized. As a small-format, mobile boutique experience, by Reveal offers a customized experience and in-person engagement with a brand; while The Perfect Provenance offers a curated gallery experience in a retail store. Retail clearly continues to undergo radical shifts, impacted dramatically by the internet and social media, however, the place for the personal appears to be alive and well. Lori noted the importance of curation in her acceptance, as her venue offers luxury items reflecting the best in culture, food, travel, home and fragrance. She said, “Retail is not dead. It has moved to the one-on-one experience.”
In the Beauty/Fragrance Entrepreneur category, the natural world and the human biome played a significant role. Dr. Barbara Sturm, of Dr. Barbara Sturm Molecular Cosmetics, created a line based on utilizing the body’s own proteins to treat the skin; while Farmacy, winner in the category, harvests nature’s bounty for its ingredient profile, combining farm-grown, hand-picked botanicals and cutting-edge science. The brand utilizes its patented Echinacea Green Envy, an organically grown variant of Echinacea purpurea, which contains a potent natural anti-oxidant, called cichoric acid, known for its restorative properties and protection of the skin’s collagen; Strangelove NYC, by Elizabeth Gaynes, utilizes natural floral essences and oils to create artisanal perfumes; and WelleCo, co-founded by Elle Macpherson and Andrea Harwood, harnesses the power of natural whole foods to create bio-live organic plant-based supplements that fuel the body with nourishing proteins to help maintain a healthy alkaline balance.
Finally, Gary Wassner presented the Hilldun Business Innovation of the Year Award to Mary Orton and Rich Scudellari, for their Trove app, another example of a growing emphasis on inter-relationships in business. The Trove app is about deepening connectivity between brands and retailers through influencers, discovering trends and products, or curating your closet, via the digital world, according to company executives.
Wassner said that in today’s market there is more opportunity to speak directly to consumers, and said, “In supporting innovation, we couldn’t find anyone better than Mary Orton and Rich Scudellari.”
It was apparent throughout the event that inter-relationships deepen experience, whether in divergent professional pathways, fashion and function, or the interdependence of nature and science in beauty product development; and each category’s representatives, in their own ways, attested to the phenomenon.
Additional information about The Fashion Group International, Inc., and its programs and events, may be found at: www.fgi.org.