Nurturing the Next Fashion Leader | Instant News


With the charity circuit in New York absent, here’s how some philanthropists and public figures spent their time and resources during the pandemic.

Age: 40

Occupation: fashion designer, artist, musician, entrepreneur

Favorite charity: Fashion Scholarship Fund; No Negatives

Where have you been taking refuge?

I have spent most of my time in my studio on the North Side of Chicago. Digital conferencing should replace aviation around the world, so I’ve created a space where I can work on my fashion, art and music – a multipurpose studio that I love.

What does it look like?

It’s a beautiful mess, a kind of open space that reflects the interdisciplinary aspect of my practice.

You are a member of the Fashion Scholarship Fund board, which supports the next generation of industry leaders. What do we owe them?

We owe a full restructuring and rethinking of our assumptions. In the past, recruitment was based on accreditation: If you attended this or that school, or come from this or that background, we can give you a position. Now we need to open the door to the new empowered generation, who come with social media tools, with diverse concepts, ideas and opinions, not just accreditations and ambitions.

You have coached young black and brown people. What has taught you?

It’s a different world than I was in. The turbulence of the past year has put things – systemic racism, unconscious bias – in front of us, not in our backyard.

Your fans are waiting in line to buy your designs. After the pandemic, will the stripes have a future?

I do not think so. If you measure the success of something with a line, it’s a misstep. Lines are a side effect of my practice, not the point. The point is to make something that is worthy of being.

What do you do for pleasure?

I’m not the type to sit on the sofa and watch movies. I’m excited now about my label, Off-White. More than just a fashion label, it’s a generational platform for highlighting and sharing stories. We will replace the fashion show with an online television station that we plan to launch during fashion week.


Age: 50

Occupation: creative director, Estée Lauder Companies

Favorite Charity: God’s Love That We Give, Mount Sinai Medical Center Foundation, Estée Lauder Breast Cancer Campaign

Where have you been taking refuge?

I just came out to Westhampton. We’ve been traveling between here and our apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for months. Pandemic means total adjustment. On the plus side, there is time for family and things we care about.

Like what

We hold family meals and talks where our sons, Jack and Will, can share their concerns and fears. We celebrate New Year with my family.

What’s most troubling?

At first there was fear. Every package, every envelope that arrives, every trip to the store in masks and gloves – all of this is very annoying. Even now when I walk in my neighborhood, I see so many shops for rent. So many are empty. This is heartbreaking.

How do you handle it?

I am not comfortable being outside or with more than a few people. I’ve been careful. I follow the rules; I’m wearing a mask. But then I always followed the rules. I’m not a girl who dyes her hair pink. I’ve never worn black nail polish.

You have published Book about entertaining. Have your rules developed?

Comforting me has always been partly about taking time for myself. When I invite guests, I am no more than 10 people, close family and friends. We have many dinners in our kitchen. Everything is more relaxed, and multigenerational. I have learned to cook. I learn from Ina Garten on Instagram how to make roast chicken, and now I make it for my son.

Have you discovered other advantages of locking?

This pause has helped me see a variety of ways to be creative. I follow travel accounts on Instagram and walk constantly. I walk alone. It’s the only thing that will allow me to escape. Some of my best ideas come from those walks. I have discovered that I am New Yorker. There is nothing I like more than pretzels from a truck.


Age: 61

Occupation: president of the Ford Foundation

Favorite charity: NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Presidential Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy

Where have you been taking refuge?

I’m renovating a new apartment on the Upper East Side, so I’ve been staying in a friend’s apartment nearby. The renovations started before Covid, and I am still homeless. I live alone with Mary Lou, my wonderful English bulldog.

Is the lock difficult?

I am a recognized extrovert, and I thrive in human interaction. The isolation for the last nine months has been very difficult.

How do you break solitude?

I very wisely left, partly because we needed to support our restaurant. I firmly believe that we need to eat out every meal if we can. I just had lunch at Le Bilboquet and dinner at Philippe Chow the other day.

You had a Zoom conversation last week for the Art and Design Museum.

MAD occupies a unique space in the museum ecosystem in New York. That they work at the intersection of design and visual arts makes their mission so important now. We know that art can heal.

You invited André Leon Talley to speak. Why?

André and I met at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem in 1995. We often talk about what it feels like to be the only black face in the room. What is found in André’s memoir is that she is vulnerable in things the fashion elite often doesn’t. As he told me, “every day I have to prepare to fight.” The same is true in finance, technology and other industries. To succeed we must, as André said, leave our Darkness at the door.

Which group was knocked out by the pandemic?

People who are most marginalized are people with disabilities. They are often an afterthought in policy, programming, and recruiting. You don’t find many people in leadership positions on the board. We have a lot of work to do to get rid of the defects.

Your optimism seems limitless. Where does it come from

Winter always weighs on mental health, but this January is tougher. My friend David Beitzel died two years ago this month. However, not a day goes by when I don’t think about how lucky and lucky I am. What I look forward to more than anything is being able to hug. I can’t wait to enjoy the hugs of my loved ones.

This interview has been edited.





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