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FIT 2012 Couture Council Award
For Artistry in Fashion
Oscar de la Renta
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center

Written by Wendy R Williams
Photo Credit:
Nick Hunt for
Patrick McMullen

Opposite Photo: Oscar de la Renta and Mayor Bloomberg

Anna Wintour, Diane Von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta and Sarah Jessica Parker

The Couture Council of the Fashion Institute of Technology kicked off September's Spring/Summer 2012 Fashion Week with their annual Couture Council Award Benefit Luncheon. This year's honoree was famed fashion designer and philanthropist, Oscar de la Renta. This City is fueled by fashion and in recognition of the art-of-fashion's contribution to our economy, none other than Mayor Bloomberg presented the award to Mr. de la Renta.

The Couture Council of FIT was founded in 2004 to support The Museum at FIT. The first Awards luncheon was hosted in September 2006 honoring Ralph Rucci. And then it was Alber Ebaz in 2007, Isabel Toledo in 2008, Dries Van Noten in 2009, Karl Lagerfeld in 2010, and Valentino in 2011. Fashionista and philanthropist Liz Peek has been the driving force behind the Couture Council. Peek has been ably assisted in her journey by FIT director, Dr. Valerie Steele. They have worked tirelessly to both honor the art of fashion and create a group where the "friends of fashion" can socialize and promote the "art you wear."

Mr. de la Renta was chosen to receive The Couture Council Artistry of Fashion Award by the Couture Council Advisory Committee, an independent group consisting of curators, editors, and retailers. Members include Pamela Golbin, curator of the Musée de la Mode; Akiko Fukai, director and chief curator of the Kyoto Costume Institute; Caroline Milbank, independent curator and author; Glenda Bailey, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar; Hamish Bowles, European editor-at-large of Vogue; Ken Downing, fashion director of Neiman Marcus; Linda Fargo, senior vice president of Bergdorf Goodman; Nicole Fischelis, vice president and fashion director at Macy’s; and many distinguished others. Dr. Valerie Steele serves as chair.

Valerie Steele, Alexandra Lebenthal, Oscar de la Renta,
Elenora Kennedy and Liz Peek

2012 was the third year the luncheon was held at New York's Lincoln Center, the home of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week's "tents," and the luncheon's first year at the David H Koch Theatre. The David H Koch theater easily lent itself to the festivities. Cocktails were served on the orchestra level and then guests climbed the stunning marble stairway to the promenade level for a three-course luncheon served on tables dressed with de la Renta's favorite flowers, deep red carnations (in arrangements by floral designer Bronson van Wyck).

Sarah Jessica Parker and Oscar de la Renta

The President of FIT, Dr. Joyce Brown, the director of The Museum, Dr. Valerie Steele, and the chair of the council, Liz Peek, addressed the guests and spoke of de la Renta's genius-in-design. Then it was time for Mayor Bloomberg to present the award to his friend, Oscar.

Oscar de la Renta and Mayor Bloomberg

“I am honored to receive this award from the Couture Council of The Museum at FIT,” said Mr. de la Renta. “It is an extraordinary acknowledgement celebrating artistry in fashion, a craft that defines my work as a designer and drives our industry as a whole. FIT is an institution dedicated to the future of fashion. I greatly admire their work and am happy to be a part of their efforts.”

Afterwards, the always hysterical man-about-town Simon Doonan, held the drawing for the door prizes and conducted the "exotic vacation" auction. Yet again this year, Doonan encouraged the guests to run screaming to the podium to collect their prizes. But it was to no avail. There is always hope for next year.

This year's luncheon raised one million dollars for The Museum. The benefit was underwritten by American Express, with generous support from Saks Fifth Avenue and Oscar de la Renta.

Liz Peek and Eleanora Kennedy

Nina Garcia
Mayor Bloomberg and Diana Taylor

Luncheon chairs were Eleanora Kennedy, Alexandra Lebenthal, and The Honorable Daphne Guinness. The honorary luncheon chair was Annette de la Renta. Notable guests also included Sarah Jessica Parker, Barbara Walters, Anna Wintour, Dr. and Mrs. Henry Kissinger, Stephanie Seymour-Brant, Barbara Bush, Jenna Bush, Simon Doonan, Diane von Furstenburg, Nina Garcia, Carolina Herrera, Narciso Rodriguez, Joan Smalls, Martha Stewart, Diana Taylor, and Robert Verdi, as well as Iris Apfel, Fabiola Arias, Glenda Bailey, Dennis Basso, Serena Boardman, Alex and Eliza Bolen, Geoffrey Bradfield, Mario Buatta, Sharon Bush, Buffy Cafritz, Claudia Cisneros, Victor Costa, Matilda Cuomo, Amy Fine Collins, Matilda Cuomo, Christina Davis, John Dempsey, Ken Downing, Tiffany Dubin, Renaud Dutreil, Linda Fargo, Fe Fendi, Pamela Fiori, Cornelia Guest, Jamee Gregory, Audrey Gruss, Agnes Gund, Susan Gutfreund, Duane Hampton, Mai Harrison, Kathleen Hearst, Marlene Hess, Jane Holzer, Kenneth Jay Lane, Eric Javitz, Mariana Kaufman, Alexandra Kotur, Richard Lambertson, Karen LeFrak, Jaqui Lividini, Sharon Loeb, Shirley Lord, Carol Mack, Chris Madden, Robin Burns-McNeill, Charlotte Moss, Patricia Underwood Moynihan, Lynn Nesbit, Helen O'Hagan, Lisa Perry, John and Laura Pomerantz, Candy Pratts Price, Emily Rafferty, Judith Ripka, Alexandra Lind Rose, Hilary Ross, John Rosselli, Steven Stolman, Nadja Swarovski, Lizzie Tisch, Barbara Tober, Stefano Tonchi, John Truex, Bronson and Mimi Van Wyke, Jacqueline Weld, Bunny Williams, Eliane Wynn, and Joe Zee. The luncheon was sold out, hosting more than 600 guests.

Oscar de la Renta

Here is some information about de le Renta, The Museum at FIT, luncheon sponsor American Express and luncheon supporters Saks Fifth Avenue and Oscar de la Renta LLC from the press release from Jonathan Marder + Associates:


Born in the Dominican Republic, Oscar de la Renta left at the age of eighteen to study painting at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. While living in Spain, he became interested in design and began sketching for leading Spanish fashion houses, which led to an apprenticeship with Spain’s renowned couturier, Cristóbal Balenciaga. Later, he left Spain to join Antonio Castillo as a couture assistant at the house of Lanvin in Paris. Mr. de la Renta came to New York in 1963 to design the couture collection for Elizabeth Arden and in 1965 began his signature ready-to-wear label. When he was appointed as designer to the French couture house of Pierre Balmain in 1992, it was the first time that an American had been chosen for such a prestigious position at the heart of the haute couture.

Today, the company also produces a bridal collection, beauty line, home collection, childrenswear collection, and a complete range of accessories, including handbags, shoes, and jewelry. In 2008, Oscar de la Renta opened its first international stores in Athens and Madrid, and has continued its expansion with the opening of Dubai in 2009, Tortuga Bay in 2011, and Riyadh in 2012. Later this Fall, Oscar de la Renta is opening a store in London and expanding its boutique on Madison Avenue.


The Couture Council of The Museum at FIT is a membership group dedicated to supporting The Museum at FIT, a specialized museum of fashion. The Couture Council helps make it possible for the museum to mount world-class exhibitions of fashion, to acquire important objects for its permanent collection, and to organize public programs, such as the annual fashion symposium. The Couture Council accomplishes these goals through collecting membership dues and by organizing fundraising events such as the annual Couture Council Awards Luncheon, which presents a chosen designer with the Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion.

Couture Council annual membership is $1,000 per individual or couple, or $350 for Young Associates (under the age of 35). Membership is tax deductible to the extent provided by law. Please make checks payable to the FIT Foundation. Mail hecks to The Museum at FIT, attention: Couture Council, 227 West 27th Street, Director's Office, Room E304, New York, NY 10001-5992.

Members of the Couture Council receive invitations to at least five special events a year, including behind-the-scenes tours of the museum’s collection and exhibitions, opening receptions, and visits to the ateliers of fashion designers in New York. Couture Council members are also the first to receive notice of the annual Couture Council Artistry of Fashion Award luncheon.

In addition, Couture Council members receive complimentary admittance to all museum educational programs, as well as to the annual fashion symposium, acknowledgments in FIT's annual report, in the exhibition galleries and brochures,and on the FIT website and exclusive opportunities to meet other patrons of the fashion arts.

The Couture Council of The Museum at FIT’s board of directors includes Liz Peek (chair), Yaz Hernàndez (president), Joele Frank, Laura Lofaro Freeman, Anne S. Goldrach, Michelle Harper, Carole Divet Harting, Celia Hegyi, Chiu-Ti Jansen, Eleanora Kennedy, Michèle Gerber Klein, Alexandra Lebenthal, Kamie Lightburn, Charlotte Moss, Nancy Shaw Raquet, Darcy Rigas, Peter G. Scotese, Jean Shafiroff, Michelle Smith, Jieun Wax, and Sarah G. Wolfe.

For more about The Couture Council visit fitnyc.edu/couturecouncil


The Museum at FIT is the only museum in New York City dedicated solely to the art of fashion. Best known for its innovative and award-winning exhibitions, which have been described in The New York Times as “ravishing,” the museum has a collection of more than 50,000 garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present. Like other fashion museums, such as the Musée de la Mode, the Mode Museum, and the Museo de la Moda, The Museum at FIT collects, conserves, documents, exhibits, and interprets fashion. The museum’s mission is to advance knowledge of fashion through exhibitions, publications, and public programs.

Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of the Museum at FIT, Part Two, the second of two exhibitions that highlight modern and contemporary pieces from the Museum’s permanent collection, is on view through November 10, 2012. More than sixty garments and accessories are featured by designers from Adrian to Zoran, including work by Charles James, Ralph Lauren, and Diane von Furstenberg. Full portraits of all exhibition objects from the two exhibitions will be included in a companion publication by TASCHEN, forthcoming this fall.

"Ivy Style, l" celebrating one of the most enduring clothing styles of the 20th century, will be on view from September 14, 2012 to January 5, 2013 in the Special Exhibitions Gallery. While viewed today as a classic form of dressing, in its heyday, Ivy style—or the “Ivy League look” —was actually so cutting-edge that it went on to inform the evolution of menswear for decades. The exhibition examines the genesis of Ivy style on the prestigious college campuses of the United States during the early years of the twentieth century, looks at the ways in which the style became codified by mid-century, and reveals how now, nearly one hundred years after its inception, Ivy style is still a thriving global influence.

For more about The Museum at FIT, visit www.fitnyc.edu/museum


The Fashion Institute of Technology, a college of the State University of New York, has been a leader in career education in art, design, business, and technology for nearly 70 years. With a curriculum that provides a singular blend of hands-on, practical experience, classroom study, and a firm grounding in the liberal arts, FIT offers a wide range of outstanding programs that are affordable and relevant to today’s rapidly changing industries. Internationally renowned, FIT draws on its New York City location to provide a vibrant, creative community in which to learn. The college offers more than 45 majors and grants AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees, preparing students for professional success and leadership in the global marketplace. Visit fitnyc.edu.



American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success.

Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with American Express on facebook.com/americanexpress, foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/companies/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.

Key links to products and services: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, business travel, and corporate card.


Oscar de la Renta is one of the world’s pre-eminent designers. The company was established in 1965 and currently produces a full line of women’s accessories, bridal, children’s wear, home decor and fragrance, in addition to its signature women’s ready-to-wear collection. For more information, please visit www.oscardelarenta.com.


Saks Fifth Avenue, one of the world’s preeminent specialty retailers, is renowned for its superlative American and international designer collections, its expertly edited assortment of handbags, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics and gifts, and the first-rate fashion expertise and exemplary client service of its Associates. Today, Saks operates 45 full-line stores in 20 states, 2 licensed stores in the Middle East and 2 licensed stores in Mexico City, 64 Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH stores and saks.com, the company’s online store.

Saks Fifth Avenue is proud to be named a J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Customer Service Champion and is only one of 50 U.S. companies so named.












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