Friday, July 12, 2024

Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Paris Hilton and More Make Fashion Trust U.S. 2024 Awards Shine

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Oscar winner Da’Vine Joy Randolph and her stylists Wayman Bannerman and Micah McDonald presented the final award; everyone sang along to Macy Gray performing her hit “I Try” onstage; Cynthia Erivo, Andra Day, Paris Hilton, Kiernan Shipka, Janelle Monáe, Lisa Rinna, Jessica Biel and more mingled with an international group of designers including Isabel Marant, Phillip Lim, LaQuan Smith, Gherardo Felloni, Laura Mulleavy, Enrico Chiarparin, Maria Cornejo, Raul Lopez, Sergio Hudson, Tyler Ellis, Batsheva Hay and Jackson Wiederhoeft.

The Fashion Trust U.S. 2024 Awards held in Los Angeles Tuesday night gave the East Coast design prizes a run for their money, gathering an impressive crowd to give out half a million dollars at a Beverly Hills private estate with a gym as big as some homes.

The evening started with cocktails on the expansive terrace. People dressed — they dressed — with Wiederhoeft in a sequin portrait face dress and lace opera gloves; Binata Millinery designer Rowell Concepcion in a tuxedo hat; and stylist B Akerlund in full plume.

Guests started the evening networking, checking out displays of the designers’ works, sipping tequila cocktails with flower garnishes and placing bets on the lavish abode’s price as is the way in this land of real estate porn.

Tina Chen Craig of U Beauty, and a pink Valentino-attired Eric Buterbaugh were at the bar with Smith. “They asked me to sit on the board and critique some of the designers…and meet some of the rising talents, it was really nice. I was happy to be a part of it,” Smith said.

“It’s so tough out there that’s important to bring these young designers along and show them support and love,” said NJ Goldston, managing partner of APL, one of several executives in the mix, including St. John chief executive officer Andy Lew, and Thirteen Lune CEO and cofounder Patrick Herning.

Everyone migrated past the pool and the lemon grove to a tent in the backyard for the awards dinner, where Tory Burch, St. John, Roger Vivier, UTA and Tabayer had bought tables, and stylists Petra Flannery, Erin Walsh and Jason Bolden, hairstylist Chris Appleton and others were in the seats.

The Fashion Trust U.S. finalists were selected by founder Tania Fares, board members Laura Brown, Karla Welch, Tan France, Maha Dakhil and Anne Crawford, with support from presenting sponsor Shop With Google. A larger group voted on the winners after a showcase on Tuesday morning.

“As someone who has walked this challenging path, I understand the highs and lows of the fashion world. The journey can sometimes feel lonely, stressful and filled with self-doubt, which is why it’s crucial to have a supportive community,” Fares said introducing the awards, which for the second year, highlighted global diversity and handcraft in fashion, as well as the importance of the Hollywood spotlight.

Hosted by Zooey Deschanelthe honors included awards for emerging ready-to-wear, jewelry, accessories and recent graduate designers, with two special award categories including inclusivity and sustainability.

Harbison Studio won the Ready-to-Wear Award, presented by Randolph, Bannerman and McDonald. Charles Harbison started his label in New York, ended up closing it, moving to L.A. and relaunching in 2022.

“I exist because I’m in L.A.,” he said. “Carpets have been great for me, and then I get to have this cocktail evening business,” he said of finding success selling his “Southern girl meets ‘Alice in Wonderland’” dresses at Bergdorf Goodman, Moda Operandi and soon in Nordstrom, as well as dressing Sheryl Lee Ralph, Chloe Bailey and Jodie Turner-Smith among others for the red carpet.

“I stand here because of the women who raised me who used fashion to elevate their experience in the world. They were really blue collar, strong amazing women. Their 9 to 5s and Mondays through Fridays were hard, but their Saturdays and Sundays were amazing and little Charlie saw that,” he said accepting the award.

“I didn’t know I was up for this award but I’m happy to win…always,” said Hay, receiving the Sustainability Award. “I love using vintage and sustainable fabrics,” she said, adding of the Fashion Trust experience, “I have to say, and I’ve been through it, this is a really beautiful program. Tania, everyone involved, it felt like a full-embrace hug, support the whole way through…for what we’re going through, it’s kind of a big deal.”

The designer of the subversively feminine label founded in 2017 made headlines at New York Fashion Week in February for casting Molly Ringwald, Ione Skye and others in a cast of age 40-plus models on her runway, an experience, she said, “renewed my creativity.”

Presented by Marant, the Accessories Award sponsored by Builder Ai was given to Esha Soni, who launched her brand of gorgeous, Made in India heirloom bags in organic forms with removable bangle bracelets after working for Michael Kors, Proenza Schouler, Ralph Lauren and others for nearly two decades.

Soni was featured on “The Real Housewives of New York” in August. “I had 3,000 people at the store the night the show aired,” she said during the cocktail hour, adding that she sold 15 of her $1,000 bags off of it. “I need to focus the next six months on aligning myself with the right stores,” she continued, naming Just One Eye and Elyse Walker on her L.A. wishlist.

Erivo presented the Jewelry Award to MoAnA Luu of ManLuu, who pays homage to her French West Indies heritage with handcrafted modern cannage jewelry in gold and precious stones. “I didn’t prepare a speech because I was already just so happy to be here,” said the designer, who hails from Martinique. “I want to inspire the younger generation to understand that Creole jewelry is part of a larger global story.”

The Graduate Award sponsored by St. John went to Yamil Arbaje, whose designs address youth culture and representations of Latin American masculinity.

Presented by Emma Grede, CEO and cofounder of Good American and Aurora James, founder of Brother Vellies and the Fifteen Percent Pledge, the Inclusivity Award sponsored by Shop With Google was presented to Ashley Harris of Don’t Let Disco.

The collection of one-of-a-kind, handcrafted beaded jewelry was founded in 2021 by the former Sotheby’s director, who has found success hosting regular beading bar events at her Brooklyn-based studio “stringing up memories so you can wear them with you always” with beads made by third-generation glassmakers, Polish artisans, breast cancer survivors and more.

“We’ve built an incredible community with our beading bars….It’s such an honor to be here and in this room,” Harris said.

Each winner received a trophy designed by jewelry designer, Nigora Tokhtabayeva of Tabayer. Inspired by Tabayer’s signature Oera motif, the sculptural gold trophy casted in bronze and finished with 18-karat Fairmined gold, loops into itself like a needle and thread.

Using seed donations from the L.A.-based British heiress Jordana Reuben Yechiel, jewelry designer Jacquie Aiche and 24 other founding patrons in the real estate, finance and art worlds, Fares set up the Fashion Trust U.S. in 2022, with the goal of awarding prizes in amounts determined by a designer’s need.

Fashion Trust U.S. winners receive grants of between $100,000 and $200,000, depending on the size of their business and annual turnover, as well as mentoring. Both U.S. citizens and noncitizens are eligible, but businesses must be based and registered in the U.S., employ American creators and workers and exist for a minimum of two years and a maximum of seven years.

In its second year, the awards included accessories categories for the first time.

“[Charles Harbison] lives in L.A. and thinks it’s a very good thing for his business,” Fares said of holding the awards on the West Coast. “There is so much happening creatively with the stylists, artists, with designers, so I feel it’s a great place to host it.”

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