Friday, May 28, 2010


American Apparel and Footwear Association & Charity Partner Autism Speaks™

2010 Dinner Raises $700,000!!!!


Suzanne & Bob Wright (Humanitarian Award) Presented by Tom Brokaw (E-tailer of the Year) Presented by Trish Wescoat-Pound
John Bartlett (Designer of the Year) Presented by Cynthia Rowley
Gap, Inc. (Retailer of the Year) Presented by Joe Zee
Fern Mallis (Fashion Maverick of the Year) Presented by Robert Verdi
Steve Madden (Brand of the Year) Presented by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Li & Fung Ltd. (Excellence in Global Leadership) Presented by William McComb

Grand Hyatt Hotel NYC

May 26th, 2010

6:30 PM

Words/Images Judith Ecochard

Maybe it was the pick-up in retail sales in a more upbeat economy--- compared to last year’s event…

…but it was all smiles at last night’s AAFA Annual Image Awards.
 Fern Mallis/John Bartlett

Bruce Rockowitz (L) President of Li & Fung -Ranked by Barron's (March 2010) as one of the world's 30 best CEOs. Wow.

Even one of the most paparazzi targets on the planet, the Olsen twins who have a terrific shoe line with the company of honoree, the jovial Steve Madden ---were all smiles and stayed until the end.

Steve Madden/ Joe Zee

All smiles for everyone all the time…we think we got a pic of Steve Madden (with MC Tinsley Mortimer) the one nano second he wasn’t smiling.

Dueling camera angles for cable tv/fashion expert Robert Verdi and Steve Madden.

We got there during the cocktail hour when the honorees and their presenters were posing.

John Bartlett/ Killick S. Datta, Chair AAFA

Guests included the nice Real Housewife of New York, Alex McCord…and the MTV Television camera surrounded ex-The Hills/now The City casts…Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Hilfiger---all looking great.

Actually, we didn’t know everyone…but fashion crowds dress well!


Tinsley Mortimer really impressed us with her focus and serious attitude as host of this heavy weight retail crowd. Good Job.
 Tinsley Mortimer, Bob Wright & Tom Brokaw

The benefiting charity, Autism Speaks™ was founded by honorees Suzanne and Bob Wright (former Vice Chair and Executive Officer of General Electric and also Chairman and Chief Executive of NBC Universal). It is the largest USA autism science and advocacy organization…

Mrs. Wright, who has a grandson with the condition…was such an eloquent speaker, clearly and passionately recounting some startling facts (1 in 110 children, 1 in 70 boys in America and 67 million people globally have autism)…that even this 700 plus chatty bunch…avidly listened to every word she said.

We told her she should run for public office…and her reply “…when autism is cured…” BRAVO.

Other highlights…

Shopbop’s President Jeff Yurcisin, noting how his company is there “to serve customers…and be inspired by what she wears.”

Cynthia Rowley, one of our favorite designers (soon to launch a bridesmaid collection that we will actually want to wear again and not for Halloween)…recounting BFF/honoree John Bartlett’s knack for superceding her ideas for clever RTW shows “He’s always a step ahead of me”…and both of their great tastes in music…like the BAD SEEDS! Cool.

Special mention was made of John Bartlett’s catwalk finale of men with strategically placed surfboards “and nothing else.”

Rowley concluded hailing her pal as “one of a kind” …in a good way…including his three legged dog.

C. Rowley wearing her own.

We thought Bartlett’s comments made afterwards…were thought provoking, an action we usually curtail after 7PM.

“You can’t just be a designer…you have to be everything,” he noted. Bartlett added he personally works his store (7th Avenue-WEST VILLAGE, NYC), sends hand written thank-you notes to customers…because “it’s a personal experience.” PLUS: “…it’s a powerfully moving evening” on accepting the award.

Joe(y) Zee, the leading light behind Elle magazine’s resurrection as a must read (though we are sure he would credit the entire masthead)…intro’ed the Gap, winner of the Retailer of the Year award.

“It’s all yes,” Zee observed. “I would not have to say very much because there’s not one single person in this room who doesn’t have a memory of the Gap.” His was hysterically funny…about his experience with a  “little commercial with corduroy with Madonna, Missy Elliott and two midgets.”

The audience was already cracking up when Zee went on to recall how Madonna had her back pockets stenciled with the letter “M” for the commercial…which led to custom initial possibilities for customers’ pockets. “But they all wanted ‘M’ regardless of their name.”

And that’s “really about the power of the Gap.” And celebs.

John Fisher, son of the founders of the Gap (and we googled him---he advocates for pro- environment causes and is a major baseball fan)…shared how when he was eight years old, his parents opened a jeans store in San Francisco. Wearing a blue bracelet from his father’s memorial service that’s imprinted with “Do What You Love,” Fisher smiled at that sentiment that enabled his parents “to give back too.”

Robert Verdi is well known in the fashion biz as smart, funny and all around nice guy. His intro for the “Wizard of Oz” fashion week icon Fern Mallis recalled how he begged to get into the Tents (in Bryant Park where 7th on 6th Fashion Weeks began)… and Ms. Mallis let him in…”a gay guy reporting on fashion.”

“Fern Mallis carried the torch of American Fashion.” We agree…and think she lit the match that got it all going too.

And yes, that quip “Give me your tired and your poor yearning to sit in the front row, “ was spot on.

“That was fun…thank-you. I was thrilled to let you into the Tents,” Fern Mallis’ started with. “I think I love being called a maverick…” (But not in the Tina Fey as Sarah Pallin, or reverse (?) kind of way.

And we liked her story about a lightening bulb moment she had after taking a traffic clogged detour off the Southern State Parkway in Hempstead…while driving one Saturday--- where she was struck by the camaraderie of the crowds exiting two synagogues. For her, she realized that the fashion industry, “had become a congregation.” We know her consulting business will thrive…and were excited with the few details we got of planned runways along Broadway this summer--- featuring fashion made by the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Norma Kamali…and made from durable materials.

An eco idea we can support. Clothes that last=less landfill.

We snapped so many Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen images…we don’t have a verbatim about what Steve Madden said…other than a quip “when I was in prison,” that got a laugh. Impressed we were…as we came away from Madden’s reference to Autism Speaks…and how important that charity is to him…being a father himself.

Piano toe tappers during the cocktail hour...

DESSERT...we could have had about five of these...