Thursday, May 18, 2006

‘Making His Mark’


Patti Y. Carpenter and honoree Mark Mendelson

Last evening, about 500 people (including some fashion industry ‘heavy weights’) turned out at to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of The High School of Fashion Industries. Instead of the traditional dinner and dance, there was a cocktail reception and student fashion show held at the school, which is located in the heart of Chelsea, 225 West 24th Street.

The High School of Fashion Industries, (a college preparatory school) is notable for several things: its student body is comprised of 1650 students (92% are Latino, African American and Asian) from the city’s five boroughs who ‘audition’ for admission. The school offers majors in Fashion Design, Art, and Graphic Illustration, Marketing and Visual Merchandising. Since its inception in 1926, it’s been regarded as a training ground for the industry’s future fashion designers, illustrators, merchandisers, and buyers. In addition, they proudly boast one of the highest graduation rates of any public high school in New York City.

Ruth Finley was the Anniversary Event Chairperson, Robert Di Mauro the Event Committee Chairperson, and Patti Y. Carpenter, the Event Co-Chairperson. The evening’s honoree was Mark Mendelson, a generous, tireless, and giving fashion insider who has been a mentor and fundraiser for the school since 1992, and who also happens to be Chief Merchandising Officer of the Jones Apparel Group. For his “long term commitment to the school” Mark received the first ever “Designing the Future” mentor award. It was presented to him by Ruth on stage prior to the fashion show.


Fern Mallis and Lisa Silhanek from 7thonSixth

If the aim of the evening (according to Patti Carpenter) was “to get the industry IN the school…since the school is the future of the industry” - then I’d have to say from the turnout, ‘Mission Accomplished’. The event was supported by the generosity of the CFDA, Fashion Group International, and 7thonSixth, and indeed there were Lisa Smilor, Stan Herman, Steven Kolb from the CFDA, Margaret Hayes from Fashion Group International; Fern Mallis and Lisa Silhanek from 7thonSixth, in addition to Fashion PR mavens James LaForce, Deborah Hughes, and Bonnie Bien.

The theme of the Anniversary and the runway show was “New York, New York City of Dreams”. The 50 minute show was completely student run and produced, and even used student models. It was divided into about 15 different sections includimg men’s and women’s sportswear, children swear, lingerie, swimwear, eveningwear, and bridal. To go along with the theme, there was an evening gown which replicated the Empire State building and a cocktail dress covered with hearts reminiscent of the “I love New York logo”. Who knows, perhaps we witnessed the ‘next’ Ralph, Donna, Steven, or Narciso.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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