The Accessories Council Discusses This Year’s ACE Awards

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By Karen Giberson, President, Accessories Council

The Accessories Council “ACE” Awards (Accessories Council Excellence) were established 21 years ago to celebrate the designers, brands, influencers and leaders who have helped to define our industry.  This August 7th, we will host our most glamorous event of the year at Cipriani on 42nd street in New York City. While it’s an important networking event, it also serves as a catalyst for consumer and trade press.

I am often asked how one wins an ACE Award. ACE Award nominations and planning start almost as soon as the event has concluded. It’s a year-long process and we spend much time discussing and contemplating our line-up.  We encourage everyone to nominate candidates, then our board of directors reviews, narrows the lists and votes on the winners.  We require that the winners be on hand to accept the awards.  We also shift our award categories from year to year to reflect what’s happening in the industry.

I must thank our sponsors who help make the night possible. This years esteemed supporters include: PVH Corp., Marchon, Caleres, GIII, Global Brands Group, Judith Leiber Couture, Kendra Scott, LIM College, Safilo Group, Signal Brands and Swarovski.

I am extremely excited about our 2017 winners!  This diverse group is highly accomplished and has found ways to thrive in this rapidly changing retail environment.  Every year, something stands out and I am proud to say we have more women in our line up than ever before!  We applaud hard work and accomplishments of all our winners.

Here, some insights on why we selected this year’s honorees:

Betsey Johnson

Betsey Johnson “Style Icon”: The Accessories Council hosted a Mother’s Day tea party in April with the iconic Betsey Johnson, who delighted the group by sharing stories of her dynamic and diverse 50-year career.  From the 60’s in New York City to her current life in Malibu, Betsey has evolved her sense of style, always delivering unique and fresh designs. Most every party attendee had a story about a meaningful life moment that included a little Betsey fashion (I wore a Betsey dress at my wedding)! Betsey ended the event by giving all the attendees flowers and sharing a champagne toast.  Everyone left smiling and happy, which is what one feels when they wear Betsey’s designs. In addition to her playful line of handbags and shoes, created with the Steve Madden team, she has licenses from fashion jewelry to intimate apparel to children’s wear, to name a few.  Betsey will be accepting her second ACE Award this year as her first ACE recognition came in 2005 for “Lifetime Achievement” (Betsey is one of the very few who has been awarded multiple ACE awards). This August also marks Betsey’s 75th Birthday and we wish her a very happy birthday, congratulate her on a glorious 50-year career and are delighted to help celebrate this industry treasure!

Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria “Style Ambassador”: One of Hollywood’s most beautiful women, Eva Longoria has an incomparable sense of style. Her runway looks always include an assortment of glamorous jewelry, show-stopping footwear and elegant bags. A celebrated and award-winning actress, she has many acting credits including her notable roles including her break out success as Gabrielle Solis on Desperate Housewives. She is currently shooting the remake of the romantic comedy “Overboard” which will be released in 2018. A sought-after spokesperson, Eva has worked with numerous leading brands as New York & Co., Hanes and L’Oreal. Last year, this lifelong fan of sewing and fashion launched her own sportswear brand and website in partnership with the savvy team at Sunrise Brands.  This smart collection is stylish, versatile with a focus on comfort.

Jason Rabin, Global Brands Group

Jason Rabin “Business Visionary”: Jason is the President of Global Brands Group and a highly-regarded leader in the fashion industry. He is adored by his team, who nominated him for this award. When Debbie Forman-Pavan and Bruna Maney suggested this recognition, the Board quickly agreed!  Upon first step into GBG’s beautiful New York Headquarters in the Empire State Building, one can see that Jason’s influence goes well beyond the partnerships and product. He envisioned and built a creative hub, where talented people want to work.  Under his leadership, Jason has inspired many innovative endeavors in the celebrity space, from Katy Perry’s footwear launch to the upcoming line with Drew Barrymore. Rarely does a month goes by without GBG announcing a strategic brand, exciting launch or important contribution to the world of fashion and accessories.  The accessory and footwear divisions design and make products for an enviable who’s who of brands and designers.  We are thrilled to recognized Jason’s big picture thinking and impressive career with our Accessories Council  “Business Visionary” ACE Award.

Darcy Penick, CEO, Shopbop.

Shopbop “Retailer of the Year”: In 17 years, Shopbop has grown from upstart to a powerful global force in retail.  This well curated site offers a broad assortment of modern fashion, hundreds of brands and has a powerful editorial voice.  Importantly, they are highly committed to our categories with an exciting offering of jewelry, bags, accessories and footwear. Many Accessories Council members and past ACE winners have products on Shopbop!  Known for strong commitment to customer service, the site is regularly updated and offers a treasure hunt of new and exciting items.  CEO Darcy Penick is highly regarded by the industry, adored by her team and Shopbop has thrived under her leadership. Darcy’s personality is magnetic and we look forward to presenting this dynamic leader with our ACE Award for “Retailer of the Year”.

Designer Joseph Altuzarra

Joseph Altuzarra “Designer of the Year”: Recognizing excellence in design is one of our most highly regarded ACE Award categories and Joseph Altuzarra has impressed us with his highly inspirational handbag and footwear collections. He took the fashion scene by storm when he debuted in 2008, with Barney’s quickly picking up his first collection. Today Joseph’s feminine fashion, footwear and accessories are highly coveted and sold at some of the finest stores around the world.  His multi-cultural inspiration, attention to detail and unique voice have made him one of the most highly regarded accessory designers of the decade.  He has won multiple awards from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award, to the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear Design and Fashion Group Rising Star Award, to name just a few. We are honored to add an Accessories Council ACE Award to this list!

Jewelry designer Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott “Breakthrough Award”: I received a phone call about two years ago from one of my favorite colleagues, Nancy Berger, publisher of Marie Claire.  Nancy asked me if I knew Kendra and when I said no, she promptly connected us.  Nancy was right, we immediately recognized that Kendra was a special lady.  Kendra has a palpable passion and energy for her business and we loved her beautiful jewelry. Kendra talked about her family, her team, stores and told us about their dedication to building a community around the brand. Kendra launched her company in 2002, with a small investment and has quickly grown into a billion-dollar company, with products sold all over the world.  Kendra has a passionate fan base and understands the importance of authenticity and experience in buying her products. Philanthropy is a cornerstone of the company and they are committed to giving back, per her website, in 2016 alone, they donated over $3.5 million and more than 75,000 pieces of jewelry. As her categories expand, we look forward to seeing even more of Kendra in the upcoming years.  Kendra’s impressive path to success, her drive and rise has earned her the Accessories Council “Breakthrough” ACE Award.

Jessie Randall, co-founder, Loeffler Randall

Loeffler Randall “Brand of the Year”: The husband and wife team of Jessie Randall and Brian Murphy are the creative force behind Loeffler Randall our powerful “Brand of the Year”. Jessie serves as the Creative Director and Brian is the CEO (with a highly impressive background as an Art Director) of the company that was founded in 2003.  There is great attention to detail and personal touch in every aspect of the company.  Dedicated to footwear and handbags, their unique designs are found at a carefully chosen group of leading retailers across the globe.  The coveted brand has developed a passionate fan base of fashion insiders and influencers, not to mention an enviable following on social media. Jessie has won the CFDA Swarovski Award for Accessory Design.  Their team has been wonderful to work with and we are excited to be able to celebrate their success.

Jewelry designer Monica Rich Kosann

Monica Rich Kosann “Trailblazer”: Monica’s schedule and accomplishments over the past year make the Energizer Bunny look lazy!  A celebrated designer and photographer, her timeless pieces are sold in some of the most influential stores across the globe. Last year, Monica, debuted her second book “A Possession Obsession”, featuring beautiful images and stories about treasured items. The book is filled with stunning photography and interviews from dozens of influencers from Usher to Tamron Hall. In addition to her iconic shop in Bergdorf Goodman, she opened her first free standing store in The Shops at Columbus Circle.  In December, the 92Y honored Monica at their annual cocktail event, raising money for their jewelry center. Along the way, she finds time to support charities, the industry and her family.  We are delighted to honor one of our Accessories Council Board members and it makes us very proud to celebrate this multi-talented dynamo’s successes.

Karyn Schoenbart, chief executive officer, NPD Group

The NPD Group “Business Leadership”: For over 50 years, NPD has been a go to resource for industry data and statistics.  A trusted worldwide force, the team works tirelessly to stay on top of trends and statistics at retail.  Their dedication to the fashion accessories industry has grown greatly over the years with new categories being added. They are the Council’s go to resource for reliable statistics.  One of the most popular and anticipated events the Accessories Council hosts is the post-holiday review breakfast session with Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst for the NPD fashion team.  The Council works closely with many members of the NPD team over the year and relies on their support to help plan our events from the SUMMIT to other educational sessions.  This savvy fashion team is generous with their time, charitable and most importantly a nice group to work with!  A big thank you to Karyn Schoenbart, Marshal Cohen, Diane Nicholson, Lori Monaco, Carolyn Cohen and Beth Goldstein for all they do all year long!

Musician and entrepreneur, “Fashion and Technology”: I visited the Los Angeles headquarters for in January and was instantly wow’d by the creative environment that laid behind the doors. Set up to be a hub for ideas and innovation, the space was the center of activity for the empire built by There were design rooms, recording studios, sound stages, a team dedicated to the electronics division, a sunglass showroom and space for creatives to network and collaborate. A globally celebrated phenom, Will’s list of accomplishments is long! He is an award-winning musician, producer, inventor, designer and highly regarded thought leader across many industries. Will is high energy, hard working and prolific in his creative process.  He has a constant flow of forward thinking ideas that have yielded a successful line of headphones, tech infused apparel and ill.i his iconic line of sunglasses, to name a few.  Importantly, Will also is highly dedicated to philanthropy, donating his time and money to help multiple charities.  Will’s chic style coupled with his passion for innovation make him an excellent recipient of our Fashion and Technology ACE Award.

Henri Blomqvist, CEO North America, Safilo Group

Polaroid Eyewear “Legacy Award”: The Polaroid Brand which was founded in Massachusetts in 1937 celebrates its 80th Anniversary making eyewear. Edwin Land, a Harvard drop out, invented the first polarized film that filtered light.  The innovative film has been used in many ways, but for decades has been a leader in highly functional, lightweight and affordable eyewear.  Polaroid has been used in 3D glasses, by the US Airforce and Army, has often been part of the fashion scene and continues to delight today.  Today the timeless and high quality assortment includes styles for men, women and children and is offered in inspired colors and designs. I am a personal fan of the brand and often rely on the lightweight glasses when participating in water and summer sports.  The glasses are comfortable, look great and offer protection from the sun.   It’s wonderful to recognize this American rooted brand with an ACE Award on this impressive anniversary.

Emanuel Chirico chairman and CEO, PVH Corp.

PVH Corp.  “Sustainability Award”: PVH Corp. is one of the world’s biggest apparel and accessory companies and it’s widely recognized as a thought and action leader in all areas of sustainability. From the seed to finished product, PVH Corp. has long been committed to examining every step of manufacturing and the supply chain.  They have made reduction and elimination of dangerous chemicals a priority.  They are champions for the protection of water supplies and seek ways to reduce water usage. They have also cleverly reimagined and eliminated excess product packaging.  Most impressively, they have been doing this for years, even before sustainability was a hot topic. Under the leadership of Emanuel Chirico, the commitment has grown and the PVH team of sustainability experts are frequent speakers and experts at conferences around the world.  When a powerful company makes the environment a priority, the positive influence of their leadership can be felt across the globe.  As pioneers of sustainability we are proud to bestow PVH Corp. this very important ACE Award.

Jeriana San Juan, costume designer

Jeriana San Juan and Grandmaster Flash   “Style Influencers”:  The ACE Award for “Style Influence” go to individuals that have inspired trends, designs and created demand for accessories and fashion at retail.  This year’s winners, Jeriana San Juan and Grandmaster Flash have greatly piqued interest in 70’s fashions through their work on Netflix’s hit “The Get Down”.  The show created in part by Baz Luhrmann is peek at the Studio 54 era and highlights some of that decades most colorful and best-selling trends. Jeriana, who is the Costume Designer for the show is no stranger to the fashion scene.  An award winning FIT alumni, she has an impressive list of credits to her name.  Grandmaster Flash, who is portrayed as a character in the show also acts as advisor and Associate Producer.  Flash regarded as a pioneer of hip hop and is credited with many techniques in the genre.  He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, the first hip hop artist to be honored.

For more information on the ACE Awards, click here.

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