(FGI’s) Fashion Group International’s-16th annual Rising Star Awards

The fashion world braved Manhattan’s 14 degree temperatures and gusty winds on January 24th to attend Fashion Group International’s (FGI’s) sold out 16th annual Rising Star Awards, hosted by Saks Fifth Avenue and Instyle Magazine. Held at Cipriani, attendees were greeted with bellinis and hors d’oeurvres to keep their energy up while they mingled and networked. Hot snaps and flashes of photographers heightened the energy and buzz of the room. An elaborate lunch followed, during which keynote speaker, designer, and 30-year fashion industry veteran Ralph Rucci did a great job rallying the nominees to stay true to their art and follow their dreams. Rucci encouraged the nominees with his words, “You can’t look left or right. Just look forward, and keep your head down while working.” Then an all-star panel of presenters- Mickey Boardman, Laura Slatkin, Michael Boodro, Linda Wells, Marion Fasel, Terron Schaefer, Chris Mitchell, Karen Harvey and Derek Lam- announced the winners of the 2013’s Rising Star awards.

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Women’s Apparel:

Highly talented competition in the Womens’ Apparel category led to high drama, ending in a tie presented by Derek Lam to Tia Cibani and Norman Ambrose. Finalist, Gavadkar Vengsarkar Budha, also made a strong showing in this category.

Cibani, who spearheaded Ports 1961, won for her eponymous line of women’s apparel. Cibani’s collection is romantic and exotic, conjuring up images of a daring and chic world traveler, such as Beryl Markham in the 1920’s. Flowing silhouettes with smart details of folding, suspension and print, all trademark Cibani features and make us wonder why she didn’t win the award sooner.

Ambrose’s designs, sold at Saks, are ultra-luxurious with modernizing details like zippers and sheer skirts (not sheer enough for Kristen Stewart, though.) The designer strives for Hollywood glamour with huge fur sleeves (wonder what Cornelia Guest was thinking) and razor cuts.

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Men’s Apparel:

Belgium produces great fashion designers, and Tim Coppens is among them. Trained at Ralph Lauren before starting his own label, Coppens emphasizes sharp cuts and recently, shorts. He finds inspiration in sports and youth culture, mixing traditional fabrics with innovative materials. Coppens also received Ecco Domani’s 2012 Best Menswear Designer Award.

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Fine Jewelry:

French born, New York based Alexandre Mor took home the fine jewelry award. Her jewelry is gorgeously simple but also has amazing settings that would eclipse the gems, themselves, except for the stones’ exquisite purity and symmetrical qualities.  Mor’s mantra is, “I think of my pieces as heirlooms in the making.” She refers to her designs as “the cashmere hoodie of fine jewelry.”

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Accessories:

Cornelia Guest proved she wasn’t just a socialite by winning the Rising Star Accessory Award for her Cruelty Free Handbag and Accessory line. Ethical animal practices is the direction a large percentage of the industry is going: Beauty without guilt. Gaga may like meat dresses, but younger, “enlightened” consumers want nothing of it. This conforms to the sentiments expressed at FGI’s Sustainability That Doesn’t Crunch conference, where panelist and designer John Patrick summed up, “Consumers buy because it’s beautiful. It’s up to the manufacturers/designers to do the correct thing.”  Guest’s faux leather, or vegan leather products, do that with the posh style and quality elements Guest grew up with as the standard. Another benefit of the direction Guest has set with her accessory line is the cost, maintenance, and flexibility of design the material offers. Guest’s PVC bags average around $200 and are sold in Bloomingdale’s. As Guest explained, “I don’t think animals need to suffer for us.”

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Beauty/Fragrance Companies:

Estee Lauder’s (ELC’s) Alana Hawawini accepted the award for beauty and fragrance. With 25 brands sold in 150 countries, ELC rose from 44th to 23rd rank on Forbes’ 2012 World’s Most Influential Companieslist.

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Beauty/Fragrance Entrepreneur:

Handsome and dashing, Mexico City born Carlos Huber won the beauty and fragrance entrepreneur award. Huber, founder of Arquiste Parfumeur, uses his products to create scent-scapes of historical references that transport one to another place and time. There is a cinematic essence to Huber’s fragrance philosophy, a sensual deja-vu. Tone and emotion are called forth by the olfactory devices of rare and authentic ingredients such as chili, cinnamon and cistus resin. Russian leather, used in Arquiste’s Aleksandrscent, evokes different scenes and moods from the Spanish leather used in their Infanta en Florscent.

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Home/Interior Design:

Mexican architectural firm Materia Arquitectonica’s Gustavo Carmona picked up this year’s award for Materia’s method of utilizing material and construction elements to express architectural atmospheres and moments. Awarding Carmona the Rising Star not only recognizes his firm’s work and accomplishments but also puts a spotlight on the contribution of Latin America to international fashion and design.

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Retail:

Adorable Harvard grads Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp of Birchbox won the retail award for their interactive sampler concept company. Every month Birchbox sends subscribers a box filled with beauty, grooming and lifestyle samples from known and newer brands. Birchbox also offers product information and tips, including expert interviews, helpful tutorials, and engaging videos. Subscribers are encouraged to critique the products.

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Karen Harvey Business Innovator Award:

W Magazine alums Meggan Crum and Mandy Tang’s company, TheRunthrough.com, won the Karen Harvey Business Innovator Award. TheRunthrough.com is the go-to site for securing samples for photo-shoots between market editors and design houses. Their site allows editors to browse products organized by designer, season, price and category in the same manner as shopping on Amazon. However, in the place of purchasing selected items, editors request either a sample or a high-resolution image, which TheRunthrough sends as a request to the designer including the publication name, editor, stylist, shoot description, pickup and return dates.

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FashionEdits.com wishes great success to all the winners.