NEW YORK — Signaling the arrival of New York Fashion Week, the Fashion Institute of Technology and The Museum at FIT once again held their annual luncheon Wednesday at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, raising nearly $1 million for the museum.
This year the Museum of FIT honored Gabriela Hearst, founder and creative director of her namesake fashion brand and creative director of Chloé, with the 2023 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion.
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Among those who came out to support the museum were Martha Stewart, Jill Granoff, Robin Burns-McNeill, Glenda Bailey, Bethann Hardison, Dana Thomas, Eleanora Kennedy, Jean Shafiroff, Cameron Silver, Alexandra Vidal, Zani Gugelmann, Jennifer Creel, Alina Cho, Ali Wentworth, Indré Rockefeller, Bronson van Wyck, Susan Magrino and Fern Mallis.
The luncheon was co-chaired by Lara Meiland-Shaw, board chair of the Couture Council, and Melissa Mafrige Mithoff, vice chair of the Couture Council. FIT student Stella Hobart was presented with The Museum at FIT Student Award.
It’s been a busy time for Hearst, who is getting ready to show her Gabriela Hearst collection in New York on Sept. 12 and will show her final Chloé collection on Sept. 28 during Paris Fashion Week. As reported, Hearst is stepping down as creative director of Chloé this fall after a three-year collaboration.
Hearst told WWD she plans to open a 3,000-square-foot store on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles in November, designed by Norman Foster. She already has stores in New York and London, as well as a store within Harrods. She also has a partnership for stores in South Korea. Hearst plans to sit down Thursday night with Fern Mallis at the 92NY for a Fashion Icons conversation.
Asked what winning the 2023 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion means to her, she told WWD, “It’s a recognition for the team. I feel that we’re moving in the right direction,” she said.
Following a welcome by director and chief curator of MFIT Dr. Valerie Steele, Dr. Joyce F. Brown, president of FIT, said, “Gabriela is a trailblazer in the world of fashion.” She said Hearst grew up on her family’s ranch in Uruguay and has shown “an unwavering commitment to sustainability.”
“The industry is moving toward collections with a conscience. Gabriela is a role model for designers who are embracing their responsibility to reduce and prevent climate change. She leads by example using deadstock fabric, eliminating plastic in her work, and she even created the first carbon neutral runway show,” Brown said.
Jamie Nordstrom, chief stores officer of Nordstrom, the presenting sponsor of the luncheon, said it was an honor to be part of the event. “We are in the business of newness and that’s what drives our business. Newness comes from bringing new people into this industry and creating an ecosystem to support young creative people.”
Hearst was presented her award by Daniel Humm, chef and owner of Eleven Madison Park, and tennis champion Maria Sharapova, the former number-one tennis player in the world.
“It’s a privilege to call you our friend,” said Sharapova, who took the stage with Humm. She called Hearst “a person of such integrity” who trains like an athlete. She said the night before, Hearst sent her a message and asked if she would please come on stage and say something. “I did not have anything prepared. He [Humm] comes up with this,” she said, pointing to his notes. “I call this cheating. Could it perhaps be ChatGPT?”
Humm said Hearst has been a “huge inspiration” to him as she has navigated through a changing and challenging world. “Gabriela is sensitive, thoughtful and very creative. Gabi is also determined, hardworking and knows how to bring things to life,” he said. “We’ve all been blessed to see your creations blossom.” He also said Hearst pushes boundaries and has moved the entire industry forward.
Taking the stage, Hearst thanked her teams at Gabriela Hearst and Chloé, as well as FIT. She told the story of how she met her husband, Austin Hearst, and her business partner, Stephanie de Lavalette, in the same year, 2004. She said her husband told her that her background growing up on a ranch in Uruguay, which she had always dismissed, was special and she should bring her identity forward. She said de Lavalette “is the only person in the world who has never underestimated me.”
Hearst said she was given advice more than 20 years ago when she was working in a showroom and representing a French brand of sneakers and sportswear and they were very late with deliveries. She was shlepping the sneakers up a steep staircase to see someone, and the boss said to her, “You’re going to make it because you have determination…but don’t believe the hype. This is what I say to all students, ‘Stay the course, even if it’s possible, but it’s all about the work.’
“Every single new designer knows that sustainability is the most important crisis facing humanity, and it’s already ingrained in them, and I have nothing to teach them and everything to learn from them,” she said.
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