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The Couture Council of
The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
Artistry of Fashion
Award Luncheon
September 4, 2013
David H Koch Theater
Lincoln Center

Written by Wendy R. Williams

Photo Credit:
Jonathan Zeigler of
Patrick McMullan

Opposite Photo:
Michael Kors and Hillary Swank

Kim Nguyen, Hillary Swank, Michael Kors and Anna Wintou

The Couture Council of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology rang in Spring/Summer 2014 Fashion Week when they hosted their annual luncheon to honor this year's recipient of the 2013 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion, designer Michael Kors. Past winners of the Award include: Oscar de la Renta (2012), Valentino (2011), Karl Lagerfeld (2010), Dries Van Noten (2009), Isabel Toledo (2008), Alber Ebaz (2007), and Ralph Rucci (2006).

The Couture Council of FIT was founded in 2004 to support The Museum at FIT and its success is a direct reflection of the unlimited energy and tireless dedication of Liz Peek, chairman of the FIT Board of Trustees, FIT director Dr. Valerie Steele and Council Chair Yaz Hernandez.

Luncheon chairs Cammie Lightburn and Jieun Wax welcomed everyone and thanked them for attending and supporting the Museum at FIT. The chairs were followed to the podium by Dr. Valerie Steele who declared Michael Kors to be "The most fashionable man in New York...Every time you see one of Michael’s advertisements, you just want to BE that woman – so chic, so glamorous, jet-setting around the world in her sunglasses, and in the company of a handsome, glamorous man. So thank you Michael, for all you do for the women of the world."

Michael Kors recently gave FIT one million dollars to endow a scholarship to pay for the education of a talented student who without financial help would not be able to attend FIT. Dr. Joyce Brown, president of FIT, thanked Kors for his support and announced the 2013 Michael Kors Scholarship winner, third-semester student Kim Nguyen. The scholarship includes time studying in Europe, which as Dr. Brown pointed out, Michael Kors believes is immeasurably important to the development of a successful fashion designer. The recipient of the scholarship will also be given an opportunity to intern at Michael Kors.

The chairman of the FIT Board of Trustees, Liz Peek, then introduced actress Hilary Swank, who presented the Artistry of Fashion Award to Michael Kors. Peek told the group that Swank had known hard times in her journey to become an Academy Award winning actress (and fashion icon). Swank was born in Nebraska and when she and her mother moved to California to pursue Hillary's dream of becoming an actress, sometimes they had to sleep in their Oldsmobile.

Swank wore a pretty summer frock from the Michael Kors Collection. She spoke of her love of Kors, both for his designs and for just being Michael Kors, her friend. And Swank is far from alone in the Kor fandom aka the "Kordom." Kors's designs are worn by fabulous women all over the world including Angelina Jolie and Mrs. Obama.

When it was time for Kors to speak, he regaled the crowd with witty tidbits about his life - like the fact that although he attended FIT, he never graduated and he is still a (self professed) nightmare at the sewing machine. And how, when he was at FIT, he loved to parade around the campus in outrageous costumes (there is no hint of that now; the man is sleek). And how he does not consider himself to be a couturier. His passions is American luxury sportswear, a global style to be worn by women everywhere - designs that are "sexy, luxurious and casual."

Last to the podium was the always fun Yaz Hernandez, who wore a totally rocking pair of white cat eye sunglasses with black lenses. She toasted the crowd with a glass of wine - thanking everyone for attending the luncheon and thanking the chairs, the board and Liz Peek.

Be sure to scroll down for party pics and more information.

Alexandra Lebenthal, Yaz Hernandez, Fe Fendi, Eleanora Kennedy and Liz Peek

Liz Peek, Jieun Wax, Michael Kors, Dr. Joyce Brown,
Cammie Lightburn and Dr. Valerie Steele

Kammie Lightburn, Diana Taylor, Liz Peek and Yaz Hernandez Alexandra Richards and Patti Hanson
Chanel Iman Jean Shafiroff and Ike Ude
Lily Aldridge Nina Arianda
Iman B Michael
Nancy Shaw Muna Rihani al Nasser and Reem Acra
Amy Fine Collins Nina Garcia
Jamee Gregory Chiu-Ti Jansen and Liz Peek

The Luncheon Chairs were Kamie Lightburn and Jieun Wax. The Honorary Luncheon Chairs are Lauren duPont, Linda Fargo, Vanessa Getty, Patti Hansen, Iman, Karolína Kurková, Aerin Lauder, Sandra Lee, Crystal Lourd, Alexandra Richards, Theodora Richards, Renee Rockefeller, Jamie Tisch, Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, Elettra Wiedemann, and Anna Wintour.

Guests attending the luncheon included Amsale Aberra, Reem Acra, Marc Anthony, Iris Apfel, Nina Arianda, Fabiola Arias, Glenda Bailey, Dennis Basso, Cathie Black, Andrew Bolton, Hamish Bowles, Geoffrey Bradfield, Mario Buatta, Robin Burns-McNeill, Sharon Bush, Lisa Cashin, Kathryn Chenault, Barbara Cirkva, Suzi Cordish, Christina Davis, John Dempsey, Carole Divet Harting, Simon Doonan, Linda Fargo, Fe Fendi, Amy Fine Collins, Joele Frank, Ron Frasch, Nina Garcia, Michele Gerber Klein, Marjorie Gordon, Jamee Gregory, Audrey Gruss, Cornelia Guest, Agnes Gund, Sharon Handler Loeb, Patti Hansen, Amanda Hearst, Celia Hegyi, Yaz Hernandez, Judith Hoffman, Iman, Chiu-Ti Jansen, Kimberly Kassel, Mariana Kaufman, Eleanora Kennedy, Coco Kopelman, Karen LeFrak, Leonard Lauder, Alexandra Lebenthal, Larry Leeds, Heather Leeds, Petra Levin, Kamie Lightburn, Jaqui Lividini, Carol Mack, Julie Macklowe, Fern Mallis, Grace Meigher, B. Michael, Gillian Miniter, Natalie Morales, Josie Natori, Liz Peek, John Pomerantz, Ann Rapp, Alexandra Richards, Theodora Richards, Darcy Rigas, Muna Rihani al Nasser, Judith Ripka, Sheryl Schwartz, Pete Scotese, Jean Shafiroff, Nancy Shaw Michelle Smith, Martha Stewart, Hilary Swank, Diana Taylor, Jamie Tisch, Lizzie Tisch, Barbara Tober, Zang Toi, Stefano Tonchi, John Truex, Kay Unger, Bronson van Wyck, Robert Verdi, Jieun Wax, Anna Wintour, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Sarah Wolfe, Whitney Wolfe and Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia.

Here is some information about Michael Kors, The Couture Council Luncheon, The Couture Council and The Museum at FIT from the press release from Jonathan Marder + Associates:

About Michael Kors

Michael Kors is a world-renowned, award-winning designer of luxury accessories and ready-to-wear. His namesake company, established in 1981, produces a range of products through his Michael Kors, KORS Michael Kors, and MICHAEL Michael Kors labels, including accessories, footwear, watches, jewelry, men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, and a full line of fragrance products. Michael Kors stores are operated, either directly or through licensing partners, around the world, including New York, Beverly Hills, Chicago, London, Milan, Paris, Munich, Istanbul, Dubai, Seoul, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.


Past recipients of the Couture Council Award are Oscar de la Renta (2012), Valentino (2011), Karl Lagerfeld (2010), Dries Van Noten (2009), Isabel Toledo (2008), Alber Elbaz (2007), and Ralph Rucci (2006). In 2008, Giorgio Armani received a special award for Global Fashion Leadership.


The Couture Council of The Museum at FIT, created in 2004, 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 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.

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 Joele Frank, Laura Lofaro Freeman, Ann Goldrach, Carole Divet Harting, Yaz Hernàndez (chair), Celia Hegyi, Chiu-Ti Jansen, Eleanora Kennedy, Michèle Gerber Klein, Alexandra Lebenthal, Kamie Lightburn, Stephanie Loeffler, Julie Macklowe, Barbara Malone, Elizabeth Musmanno, Liz Peek, Nancy Raquet, Darcy Rigas, Valerie Salembier, Peter G. Scotese, Jean Shafiroff, Michelle Smith, Jieun Wax, and Sarah G. Wolfe.

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 checks to The Museum at FIT, attention: Couture Council, 227 West 27th Street, Director’s Office, Room E304, New York, NY 10001-5992.

For more about The Couture Council visit www.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.


Retrospective (May 22 – November 16) explores the relationship between fashion and its own history. Although current fashions are changing more quickly than ever and, in the constant drive for freshness, the past is often used as a point of reference. Today, many designers find it important to study both the distant and recent past as fundamental parts of the design process. They adapt, interpret, and attempt to modernize historical silhouettes and details as disparate as cage crinolines and flapper dresses. Retrospective demonstrates that referencing the past is, in fact, a practice deeply rooted in fashion history. Featuring more than 100 garments, accessories, and textiles from the museum’s permanent collection, Retrospective showcases groupings of period fashions—from 18th century to grunge—and their more recent revivals. Included are innovative designers such as Alexander McQueen, Zandra Rhodes, Norman Norell, Yves Saint Laurent, Anna Sui, Nicolas Ghesquière for Balenciaga, Walter Van Beirendonck, and artist Cat Chow.

A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk , the first museum exhibition to explore in depth the significant contributions to fashion made by LGBTQ (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer) individuals over the past 300 years, opens on September 13, 2013 (and runs through January 4, 2014). The exhibition, featuring approximately 100 ensembles spanning more than a century of fashion, also looks at the creativity and resistance to oppression expressed by LGBTQ subcultural styles. Organized in chronological order, it explores the history of modern fashion through the lens of gay and lesbian life and culture, addressing subjects including androgyny, dandyism, idealizing and transgressive aesthetic styles, and the influence of subcultural and street styles, including drag, leather, and uniforms.


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 46 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.











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