The fashion industry awarded both its future and present-day moguls at the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF)’s annual Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Awards Dinner in New York on Tuesday night.
Held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in midtown, the event was attended by 1,611 guests, making it the largest fashion gathering in New York.
Following a cocktail hour, the gala began with the introduction of the 200 student recipients of the fund’s scholarships, including the eight Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Fund Finalists from colleges and universities across the United States. The non-profit fund, which was established in 1937, awarded more than $1 million to the student recipients this year.
The presentation of achievement awards to three well established industry stars followed.
Tim Baxter, chief merchandising officer at Macy’s, received the Retailer of the Year Award. “The work that the YMA does and this generation of talent and nurturing our talent in retail is one of the most important missions I think we have,” he told Sportswear International prior to receiving his crystal trophy.
Mindy Shulman and Rich Wurtzberger then presented their father and coworker, Ronny Wurtzberger, president of Peerless Clothing, a giant in the men’s tailored category, with the Wholesaler of the Year Award. Shulman noted that her father “often refers to swatches as his children–nurturing them into the future” and the elder Wurtzberger, a longtime veteran of the business, spoke about his early, often rocky days as a salesman and then advised the audience and scholarship recipients to “make sure that your handshake is strong and make sure you look into the eyes of whoever you are talking to.”
Jessica Simpson, the singer turned entrepreneur whose eponymous fashion empire now spans 30 categories and is a $1 billion brand, received the Future of Fashion Award from Louise Camuto, widow of Vince Camuto, the shoe and apparel industry executive who died last January after helping Simpson establish her mega successful label. “She has transcended the label of celebrity,” Camuto noted in her introduction.
A somewhat flustered Simpson accepted the award and said that the odd thing about her rapid ascent in the business was “I really don’t feel all that fashion-y!”