Wednesday, May 25, 2016

AAFA 38th Annual American Image Awards 2016

The 2016 American Image Award winners included Person of the Year: Joseph Abboud; Company of the Year: BBC International LLC; Designer of the Year: Christian Siriano; Retailer of the Year: Shinola Detroit; and Fashion Maverick: Iris Apfel. Each received a statuette created by world-renowned designers and artists,Ruben and Isabel Toledo.

Hal Rubenstein-Host -acclaimed in the fashion industry-writer, editor and native New Yorker , Debra Messing-actress. Following the Mercy Ships video ...Rubenstein noted "how blessed we are" Amen to that.

May 25, 2016 - The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) drew a dazzling crowd of CEOs, celebrities, athletes, and other fashion industry influencers to its 38th Annual American Image Awards, held at the historical 583 Park Avenue event space in New York City last evening. Hosted by InStyle Magazine founding editor, Hal Rubenstein, the event supported charity partner Mercy Ships.

The night's dinner began with remarks by Rob DeMartini (Chairman of AAFA and President & CEO, New Balance Athletics) and Rick Helfenbein (President and CEO, AAFA) highlighting this organization's focus-to "recognize every aspect of business"... shines spotlight on public policy as it impacts the industry including important aspects the average consumer might not think about -like intellectual property rights and an effective and safe supply chains.

Rob DeMartini "The success of the American Image Awards is a testament to the passion of a global industry to be part of something bigger than themselves. The work we at AAFA have committed to since our beginnings is only possible with the tremendous contributions of our members."

THE Highlight =the AAFA member community part of an industry that gives back- this year's beneficiary Mercy Ships -a non-pofit that provides free basic health care around the world caring for over 2.5 million people via critical surgery, and then training people - to increase the  level of healthcare after the Mercy Ship leaves.  "AAFA was overwhelmed with the incredible generosity last night, with an unforeseen $100,000 donation to Mercy Ships made in the name of our Fashion Maverick honoree, Iris Apfel." The generous donation was made by President and CEO of United Legwear & Apparel Co., Isaac E. Ash.

With a worshipful introduction by Hal Rubinstein... "there is nothing can't talk to Iris about"  and fashion icons themselves Ruben and Isabel Toledo...'Incredible inspiration to all of us' Fashion Maverick Iris Apfel gave a humorous speech where she summed up her MO...
Learn who you are- that's style
Just be yourself the fashion police aren't going to take you away
I never thought i would be a geriatric cover girl...(concluding with) Thank you Thank you Thank you

Bill Cunningham photographer for the NY Times -another Fashion Maverick taking a picture of Isabel Toledo, Iris Afpfel and Christina Siriano

Acclaimed for his razor sharp focus and perseverance as well as a personality trait... "the best sidekick to talent is tenacity"Fashion Designer of the Year- Christian Siriano ..... acknowledged working really hard everyday..." some days are great and fabulous and some days are not" He also gave a shout out to Payless Shoes and Lane Bryant---concluding with his passion to create beautiful things for women of all shapes and sizes--- aka to "create things that are beautiful and feel inspired when we wear them."

Highlights of the evening included an inspiring speech from Iris Apfel, often called a "Rare Bird" and a treasure of American boldness and individuality, who spoke of her journey from interior decorator to fashion icon. Attendees were given an inside look at Shinola Detroit, a fast-growing brand built right in the motor city. Shinola's President Jacques Panis noted that the Shinola watches featured in the clip are just one of accessible level of accessories that created several thousand jobs- "with compassion and passion."
 "...hard things get done when the stakes are higher" he noted-concluding with " Shinola is not about 'building Detroit' we're really about PEOPLE... making things... in Detroit and all over the world."
Christian Siriano, who continually intrigues legions of media and fans while he dresses many of the world's leading ladies, inspired and entertained the audience with his wit and humor. 

A round of enthusiastic applause erupted as Robert Campbell, from BBC International, took to the stage and was recognized for immense contributions to the children's footwear industry that includes 20 brands! Bonus points here-works with the doctors on honoree Mercy Ships---  providing 30,000 corrective pairs of shoes.

Lastly, Joseph Abboud, Person of the Year...embodying the American ideal of diversity, gave major kudos to Doug Ewert of Taylor Brands for his unwavering support,  discussed his journey to fashion stardom from his working class Boston background, and finished with spot on observation that "there is nothing more stylish than giving... the spirit of America- is always stylish."

Ruthie Davis Fashion Designer of Luxury Shoes for women
Numerous past honorees were in attendance, including Isabel and Ruben Toledo; namesake designers Cynthia Rowley and Ruthie Davis; designer Yeohlee Teng of YEOHLEE Inc.; and Bill Sweedler, Co-Chairman of luxury men's fashion brand Robert Graham. The event also drew luminaries from the sports world, entertainment world, and respected industry organizations such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), Parsons School of Design, and Two Ten Footwear Foundation. 

Celebrities in attendance included: Debra Messing, Jenny Biggs, Jasmine Poulton, Mari Agory, Jackie Miranne, Janet Mock, Jackie Cruz, Africa Miranda, and Dale Moss. 

About AAFA:
Representing more than 1,000 world famous name brands, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is the trusted public policy and political voice of the apparel and footwear industry, its management and shareholders, its four million U.S. workers, and its contribution of $361 billion in annual U.S. retail sales. AAFA stands at the forefront as a leader of positive change for the apparel and footwear industry and delivers a unified voice on key legislative and regulatory issues. AAFA enables a collaborative forum to promote best practices and innovation. AAFA's comprehensive work ensures the continued success and growth of the apparel and footwear industry, its suppliers, and its customers. Learn how AAFA wears our mission at
About Mercy Ships: 
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building, and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued in excess of $1.2 billion and treating 2.54 million direct beneficiaries. Each year, Mercy Ships has approximately 1,600 volunteers from 45 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information, visit
appropriately enough -given the power of image being celebrated-
the night was filled with selfies...