Thursday, October 18, 2012

National Design Awards

Thom Browne

The Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum celebrated it's 2012 National Design Awards with a ceremony and dinner at Pier Sixty in New York. Michelle Obama served as the honorary patron of this years awards and sent her social secretary to thank winners for bringing design greatness to the United States. Winners of this years awards were chosen by a panel of design experts and educators from thousands of nominations submitted by the public. This years winners included a Lifetime Achievement Award for Saul Wurman, a design mind award for Janine Byrus, and a Fashion Design Award for Thom Browne (See his collections here).

Todd Oldham

The red carpet was filled with design, fashion and media luminaries. Paula Zahn, Todd Oldham and Fern Mallis were there to support and pay homage to acclaimed designer Thom Browne. When I asked Todd Oldham about the design awards honorees he said, "I have incredible respect for Thom Browne. Thom has physically reshaped classical design with a modern respect for beautiful tailoring." Mr. Oldham then stated, "I myself no longer design clothing since I have nothing else to state in that medium. I now design books and buildings because if you know how to sew you can do everything." (I will have to tell my grandmother that). Thom Browne said he was very excited to receive this award and "(he) designs clothing for real people. I am inspired by anyone who can sustain themselves in the design industry. But more specifically Rei Kawakubo from Comme Des Garçons was like nobody else in terms of design."

Fern Mallis

Saul Wurman winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award said "the most important thing to design is your own life." On that sobering note, I decided to leave this magnificent event to take care of some bills and start designing my budget for the upcoming year.

- Lieba Nesis

An Oriental Fiesta

Fe Fendi & Jacqueline Weld Drake
(All photos Patrick McMullan)

The definition of Fiesta, is "an event marked by festivities or celebration", and the synonyms are festival, fete, holiday, gala, feast, celebration. While all the above perfectly describe the 4th annual Fiesta 2012 Gala, which took place on Wednesday evening at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the Time Warner Center, one important word was left out: benefit.

Because more important than the festive atmosphere, the elegant venue, the fabulous evening wear, the delectable food, and the joyful camaraderie enjoyed by the international social elite from 5 continents, this glamorous black tie evening (considered to be of the last real society galas in New York), raises money for the Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education ( ), located in one of the poorest neighborhoods of the Bronx. Founded in 1934 by Claire and Elizabeth Sullivan, two schoolteachers in East Harlem, it supports young people and their families through high quality social, cultural, and educational opportunities. This year, the benefit raised $528,800 dollars – the silent auction raised $32,900.

Cecile David-Weill, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia,  Kiera Chaplin & Paul Lubetsky

Cocktails began in the hotel’s lobby lounge at 7:30 PM followed by dinner and dancing in the ballroom, and guests danced to the music of The Bob Hardwick Sound. Over 370 attended, including Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Princess Kovalenko, Fe Fendi, Tony Bechara, Enrica Arengi Bentivoglio, Deeda Blair, Peter Bacanovic, Geoffrey Bradfield, Mario Buatta, Consul Maria Elena Cabezut, Coty Cisneros, Luis Guillermo Cisneros, Kiera Chapin and Oliver James, John Demsey, Pierre Durand, Tiffany Dubin, Jacqueline and Ronald Drake, Audrey Gruss, Jamie and Peter Gregory, Yaz Hernandez, Elizabeth Jacoby, Ambassador John L. Loeb and Sharon Handler Loeb, Christopher Mason, Mary McFadden, Sydney Picasso, Hunt Slonem, Steven Stolman, Stephanie Stokes, Angel Sanchez, Lilly Scarpetta and Roberto Pumarejo, Christopher Trump, Barbara and Donald Tober, Anne Rapp, Adrienne and Gianluigi Vittadini, Cecile David-Weill, and Sabrina Wirth and Aaro. The Chairmen were Jacqueline Weld Drake, Aileen Mehle, and Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia. Mario Buatta was the Master of Ceremony.

This year's honorees were Lilly Scarpetta de Pumarejo, Pierre Durand, and Marina B, the granddaughter of Sotirio Bulgari, founder of Bulgari. (Kiera Chaplin, the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, accepted the gold medal on her behalf).

Ambassador John L Loeb & Lilly Scarpetta

Of the 2012 honorees Jacqueline Weld Drake said, “each year we honor three outstanding individuals who, through their work, exemplify excellence in philanthropy and the arts. We are honoring Lilly for her great contributions in her native Colombia where she has brought music education to disadvantaged children, including the founding and support of a children's orchestra. Pierre, who is Peruvian born, has enriched our city and played a real role in the dissemination and understanding of great art and design as the owner of the Chinese Porcelain Company. His work on Venetian Heritage-an organization that strives to conserve and preserve the treasures of Venice  — has been no less extraordinary. Marina B, the legendary Italian jeweler, known for simple designs exquisitely executed, stands for the very best in luxury. They all have been generous supporters of Casita Maria and for this we are most grateful.”

-Marilyn Kirschner

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