For its first virtual gala, the 42nd annual American Image Awards presented a list of award recipients including the Alibaba Group, Ralph Lauren Corp., Brandon Maxwell, Bravo / “Project Runway”, and Kenneth Cole, along with his surprise presenter, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who happens to be Cole’s brother-in-law.
The event, which was presented by the American Apparel & Footwear Association, benefited the Council of Fashion Designers of America Foundation. The virtual event is hosted by CNN host Brooke Baldwin and host, designer and writer Jeffrey Banks. More than 500 invited guests entered, although officials refused to disclose how much money was raised.
The 75-minute gala begins with a “virtual red carpet” featuring a cameo appearance by actor Alan Cumming along with past award recipients such as Rebecca Minkoff and Ruthie Davis, among others. A special honor goes to the late Isabel Toledo, who together with her husband, Ruben, created the American Image Awards statue. Officials said a new category would be added next year, the Green Innovation Award.
“Tonight, this online celebration revives the truly impactful, resilient and inspiring industry that AAFA represents. COVID-19 has affected us in many ways. For us, resilience means more than just bouncing back, it means jumping forward, “said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of AAFA, which opened the program standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.
AAFA represents more than 1,000 brands, speaks on behalf of four million US workers and its members generate more than $ 400 billion in annual US sales.
CaSandra Diggs, president CFDA, said, “This year has been a very difficult year for the fashion industry and the world at large. Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, like our friends at AAFA, the CFDA immediately turning around to help our industry navigate this unprecedented time. We take great pride in our efforts to support designers, manufacturers and retailers through A Common Thread. “
Turning to the evening’s awards, CNN’s Baldwin said, “Year after year, you have proven to be an industry built on constant creativity and innovation… You have proven time and time again that fashion can be a catalyst for social activism and political change, and We’ve definitely seen it, especially this summer, and you’ve also shown that fashion means business. “
The first award, Fashion Maverick, went to Bravo / “Project Runway,” which was received by Erica Forstadt, vice president, current production, Bravo TV.
“We put together a show to showcase some of the best designers around the country along with their amazing stories. With ‘Project Runway,’ we strive to highlight the evolution of exclusive and diverse fashion. Be it through designers, models and innovative challenges, our goal is to reflect the world around us, to promote evolution in the fashion industry, “said Forstadt.
Retail Innovator of the Year is awarded to Alibaba, founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, and currently reaches 800 million consumers in China and growing around the world. More than 250,000 brands and millions of small businesses run storefronts in the Alibaba marketplace.
Michael Evans, president of the Alibaba Group, said, “Wearing a tuxedo and going to an empty office and pretending to receive an award from Brooke Baldwin is not something I would expect to do. But in these extraordinary times, we have to think outside the box and innovate. It must be truer today than ever. Global pandemics, lockdowns, store closings, supply chain disruptions, you name it, 2020 we have seen. The fashion industry has been hit hard. Innovation is not only needed in times like these, it may be the difference between staying and not. That’s why winning the Retail Innovator of the Year Award in 2020 means so much to Alibaba. “
On receiving the Designer of the Year Award, Maxwell, who has been in business for five years, said, “There’s nothing better than getting an award saying Designer of the Year was sent to your home after you put your pajamas on while sitting in the same room for six years. moon wondering where your life is going.
“This time it was wild and weird, and it also strengthened for me everything I know to confirm about the industry I really like. It is filled not only with creative people, but very strong people who go to work every day, and strive for difficult things and bring beauty to the world. So far we have not only seen our community bring beauty and joy to the world, but also helped so many people who need it, and it makes me very proud to be a part of this New York fashion community. I wake up every day so grateful and excited to be part of this group of very talented people. I don’t know why I was chosen, but I am very grateful. “
Patrice Louvet, president and CEO Ralph Lauren Corp., received the Company of the Year award and thanks AAFA for being such an important and powerful voice to the industry. “It is an honor to receive this award on behalf of Ralph, and our Ralph Lauren colleagues around the world. This is a testament to their commitment and creativity, their passion and dedication, and especially their agility and resilience during unprecedented times, “he said.
“I firmly believe that fashion does have a future to celebrate. Ralph has always said that our business is not about making clothes, it’s about dreams, defining them, and bringing them to life and inspiring others to do the same. It’s about having a goal, a vision, and sticking to something. That, I think, will shape the future we create as a company and an industry, ”said Louvet.
Cuomo was there on behalf of Cole, who won Person of the Year.
“Kenneth Cole been my brother-in-law for 32 years, I’ve seen him build his business, ”said the governor, adding that he was actually trying to help Cole build his business and had lots of good marketing ideas, which Cole turned down.
“I offer the slogan, ‘Kenneth Cole, where shoes have soul.’ It was rejected. I offered, ‘Kenneth Cole, I am not a shoe,’ turned down, I offered ‘Kenneth Cole, I am not a heel.’ Rejected… ”Cuomo suggested that he walk the runway. Cole not only turned down the offer, but said he would have been more helpful if he had worn his competitors’ clothes. Cuomo later joked that he now has his own New York State line “with a more visual logo”.
Turning to the Cole award, Cuomo said, “He’s not only a great businessman, he’s a great guy.” He said Cole had used his platform and resources to bring “global attention to social justice issues”.
“He is a man who is not afraid to speak up and speak his mind and opinion, even when it is easier to keep quiet. This year, when COVID-19 increases anxiety, loneliness and fear, he launched the Mental Health Coalition to end the stigma around mental illness, ”said Cuomo. In the eighties, when the AIDS epidemic was just breaking out, he “boldly created a campaign to bring this issue to the fore.” As the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for HIV-AIDS, he shares his efforts with a global audience, said Cuomo.
Cuomo praised the way the fashion industry as a whole handled the pandemic.
“Regardless of the hardships your business faced during COVID[-19], You stepped in to offer support and resources, transforming your factory and design space to manufacture PPE. You even turn the mask into a fashion statement, “said Cuomo. “Heart, soul, community and unity. That’s what the fashion industry has shown this year. For all this pain, union is beautiful. “
In accepting his award, Cole thanked Cuomo for all he had done for his family and his family in New York. “In a leadership vacuum, you have guided us through the most challenging times we have ever faced collectively. New York is one of the earliest and hardest-hit states by COVID[-19], and under your leadership, is now one of the best. Your actions, your determination, and your leadership, change countless lives, because we have gone from worst to first. Most importantly, you have given us clarity in times of confusion and lightness in times of darkness. “
Cole said no one could have imagined that people had to navigate a global pandemic, while engaging socially, isolating themselves and maintaining social distancing. He described the challenge of not only staying in place, but being productive in the same place.
He said it was strange to receive an award when there were so many people doing so many things, such as important workers and heroes in the industry. “The fashion industry is always creative, resourceful, and tough. I believe we will not survive on PC, post-COVID[-19], the world, but I believe the world will develop as usual. “
Cole added: “My story at the end is of one American designer using his own platform to make the difference he can. I believe our greatest challenge today is finding reasons to stay in people’s closets that are already overcrowded, while respecting the health of our clients as well as the physical and mental health of their inhabitants. “
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