(Photos: Laurel Marcus)
The awards held Tuesday night at Merkin Hall had some cringe worthy moments, some humorous moments and some au courant moments, much like the social media platforms it was celebrating. What has been called the "Oscars of the Fashion Technology world" initially felt like an "underground movement which has now gone mainstream" according to its creator Yuli Ziv, Founder and CEO of Style Coalition, the leading platform for influencer and brand marketing across social networking sites. "Brands in this room have the power to reach 400 million people," Ziv extolled the audience of mostly well dressed techies who had voted for their favorite brand or campaign's Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest etc. in online communities.
This was host Robert Verdi's fourth time hosting the awards and as I didn't attend last year I don't know if he was raunchier than usual or if this is what you normally get. In a nod to Ellen DeGeneres's Oscar selfie he came onstage with a selfie stick but had some difficulties getting his phone to "turn around." After launching into a diatribe on how much he loves Cookie Lyon from the TV show "Empire," he segued into suggesting potential names for Bruce Jenner on Twitter #Him Kardashian was one suggestion. "The Kardashians are like herpes, here to stay" he added. The state of Indiana received his wrath in the form of a double middle finger salute due to their policy on the gay community.
Upon introducing keynote speaker shoe designer Sam Edelman Verdi mentioned his own early days in retail selling Sam & Libby shoes at the Short Hills Mall. "I was raised in a mall by salespeople. My parents dropped me off and picked me up three days later" he quipped. At the end of the show he felt compelled to weigh in on "Fashion Police" (he calls it "Fashion Puhleeze" mentioning that he had once been its host). He also agrees with me that it should have been called "The Joan Rivers Show" because no one else can lay claim to it, certainly not "Patchouliana Rancic" (LOL). A particularly cringe worthy joke sounded like one that Joan would have made herself: "As you all know it's terrible that Joan Rivers died because all that plastic is in the environment now" he deadpanned.
Some moments were both cringe worthy and funny such as when Lauren Drell, Branded Content Director of Mashable came to the podium to present the Pinterest award however there was a long and awkward silence while she tried in vain to summon her speech from her phone. "My notes just disappeared. I think I just archived it" she said adorably. "Sometimes digital technology just fails us. So embarrassing!" she remarked to huge applause from the audience. I'm happy to report that she decided to "wing it" and did just fine. (Perhaps we're not as dependent on our mobile crutches aka devices as we think?) When Cosmic Cart won for best fashion startup the two guys accepting the award walked stiffly to the podium and one said "We've come a long way from mom's basement to the red carpet. We just got these suits last week." Apparently, one of them was unaware that his back vents needed to have the stitches released to be open.
More cringe factors: a few awards had no one to claim them from the audience and the presenter didn't seem to know in advance producing protracted bouts of waiting on stage for the person who never came. At one point, one presenter (a male model) stuck in that exact situation decided to clutch the small gold statuette saying "I want to thank my mother, my father and everyone out there" to tittering laughter.
In the realm of the timely current event, Danica Lo, Online Editor-at-Large of Glamour presented the E-Commerce Experience Award to Net-a-Porter and the company representative accepting it remarked that today was an important day for the company. This alluded to the merger with Italian online retailer Yoox and quoted Natalie Massenet: "The best way to predict the future of fashion is to create it." Likewise when Marc Jacobs won for Online Campaign Award for "Cast Me Marc" the recipients broached the subject of the demise or absorption of the company's lower priced line saying the "future is unwritten regarding Marc by Marc Jacobs" but added that it was good to take risks.
When Sam Edelman gave his speech he claimed not to be technologically advanced. "I used a flip phone until a year ago" he admitted to another smattering of audience laughter. He spoke about the "80 young women who work with me and live on their phones." Unlike them he admitted "I don't look for a boyfriend online, I don't make funny faces with my lips in photos and I don't show pictures of my lobster risotto." Regarding his design inspiration he related that back in the day he would travel to a major city and walk on the Champs-Elysees or Bond Street and would adapt something he saw there. "Now it's harder because everyone has seen the newest styles online forcing you to be more creative."
|Carol Alt with Twitter winner|
Model and Author Carol Alt gave a personal tribute to Oscar de la Renta as well as presenting two awards. She started by talking about how Oscar grew up in a family with six sisters and had "six Barbie dolls to dress." Recalling her start in modeling: Oscar had given her a job during his first show in Japan when she was like "a little puppy missing the wee-wee pad. I did everything wrong!" she said. That included a walk in a runway show where she and Pat Cleveland were to descend seven steps on either side of the runway and meet in the middle. She recounted how she lost her balance and slid down all seven steps landing at the bottom, somehow still on her feet. As she waited for Pat to catch up to her she recalled how terrible she felt thinking she had just ruined Oscar's show. Her fears were assuaged as Oscar quickly came over to make sure she was okay. As she apologized profusely and said she was fine he told her not to worry. "'That's the best time I've had in years'" she quoted him exclaiming. "He was a man with true heart" said Alt.
After the awards ceremony which was mercifully came in at about an hour, there was wine and hors d'oeuvres for the crowd upstairs in another room. "Let's all go upstairs and talk about each other!" And with that Robert Verdi ended the show.
Here is a list of nominees and winners in all categories.
Instagram Award nominees: Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Gap, Marc Jacobs, Opening Ceremony (winner)
Facebook Award nominees: Burberry, Coach, Converse, Michael Kors, H&M (winner)
Pinterest Award nominees: Free People, J. Crew, Michael Kors, Nordstrom, Kate Spade (winner)
Twitter Award nominees: @DKNY, @SVF, @MarcJacobsIntl, @VictoriasSecret, @Dior (winner)
E-Commerce Experience Award nominees: ASOS, Farfetch, Free People, Nasty Gal, NET-A-PORTER (winner)
Interactive Retail Award nominees: Bloomingdale's Holiday, Burberry X Printemps, Calvin Klein X Macy's, NIKE Fuelstation, Rebecca Minkoff (winner)
Digital Philanthropy Award nominees: Kenneth Cole "Look Good, For Good," Michael Kors "WatchHungerStop," Ralph Lauren "Pink Pony Fund," Kate Spade, "On Purpose," Dressember (winner)
Online Video Award nominees: Chanel "Inside Chanel," Kate Spade "Waiting Game," rag & bone "Men's F/W 15," Nicole Miller "A/W 14," Under Armour "I Will What I Want" (winner)
Online Campaign Award nominees: Aerie "Real," DKNY "Cara4DKNY," French Connection "ICan'tHelpMySelfie," Tiffany & Co. "Will You," Marc Jacobs "Cast Me Marc" (winner)
Wearable Tech Award nominees: Intel X Opening Ceremony, Motorola Moto 360, Rebecca Minkoff X Case-Mate, Ringly, Tory Burch for FitBit (winner)
Fashion Startup Award nominees: Le Tote, True & Co., Spring, Twice, Cosmic Cart (winner)
Fashion 2.0 Visionary Award: BaubleBar Founders Amy Jain and Daniella Yacobovsky
Top Innovator Award nominees: DKNY, Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Rebecca Minkoff (winner)
- Laurel Marcus