Industry Execs Honored at Dining in the Dark Event

In Industry News, What's New by Lauren Parker

Visionary Award Honoree Elaine Gold (center) with Dinner Co-Chair Evan Mittman (right) and his wife Debi (left). Photo: Zachary Baudoin

Visionary Award Honoree Elaine Gold (center) with Dinner Co-Chair Evan Mittman (right) and his wife Debi (left). Photo: Zachary Baudoin

New York—The Foundation Fighting Blindness, a national nonprofit focused on vision-saving research, honored fashion industry leaders Jonathan Adler, founder and CEO of Jonathan Adler Enterprises; and Elaine Gold, founder and president of Elaine Gold Enterprises, with Visionary Awards at its 3rd Annual New York Fashion Ball: Dining in the Dark on May 22 at the Plaza Hotel.

More than $425,000 raised for the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ research into preventions, treatments and cures for vision-robbing retinal diseases

By having guests eat their dinners in complete blackness, the unique fundraiser gives guests a first-hand glimpse into the world of blindness.

Proceeds benefit sight-saving research into preventions, treatments and cures for retinal diseases like macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa that affect more than 10 million Americans. Serving as Master of Ceremonies was writer, fashion personality and famous window dresser Simon Doonan.

Dinner was served by visually impaired servers, trained especially for the event, who used a system of ropes and stanchions to help guests navigate this new culinary journey of heightened smell, sound, taste and touch.

Master of Ceremonies Simon Doonan and Visionary Award Honoree Jonathan Adler. Photo: Zachary Baudoin

Master of Ceremonies Simon Doonan and Visionary Award Honoree Jonathan Adler. Photo: Zachary Baudoin

“The experience of Dining in the Dark opens guests’ eyes to what people like me, who have a vision impairment, deal with on a daily basis,” says Dinner Co-Chair Evan Mittman, CEO of Cipriani Accessories. A Foundation Fighting Blindness board member, Mittman didn’t let a sight-robbing genetic disease stand in his way of building one of the largest companies in the accessories industry. “Our hope is to shine light on the impact of retinal disease while raising funds for cutting-edge research in promising areas like gene therapy, stem cells and pharmaceutical treatments. The evening’s deserving honorees, Jonathan Adler and Elaine Gold, are visionaries in the fashion industry, just as the Foundation Fighting Blindness is a visionary committed to ending blindness.”

Iconic potter, designer, author, and personality Jonathan Adler launched his internationally recognized design brand in 1993 with a collection of pottery. He has since expanded his collection to include home furnishings, bath accessories, gifts, bedding, lighting, handbags and more. Adler’s original Manhattan boutique has grown into over 20 stores worldwide, an e-commerce site, and a wholesale business with over 1,000 locations globally. Also an author of four books, the design expert released 100 Ways to Happy Chic Your Life last November to help people live happily and stylishly.

Visually impaired servers used ropes to navigate the room and served guests their entree in complete blackness. Photo: Zachary Baudoin

Visually impaired servers used ropes to navigate the room and served guests their entree in complete blackness. Photo: Zachary Baudoin

Also receiving the Visionary Award was accessories maven Elaine Gold, who began her career in an entry-level position at Vera Industries and worked her way up to become vice president of merchandising there. The savvy businesswoman went on to launch Anne Klein’s popular scarf line, form a fashion division for Totes, bring Ellen Tracy to market, and introduce Jones New York. Elaine Gold Enterprises, LLC was formed in 2003 when she licensed the United States Postal Service to use the magnificent archives of stamp art on fashion accessories. Private Label for major designers as well as retailers all using print and color is what the company is known for. Gold’s enthusiasm for the business is shared by many, and she serves on many industry Boards here and abroad, and is an Honorary Fellow of Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Israel.

Co-chairing the Fashion Ball with Mittman was Kay White, vice president of Dilliard’s, and fashion executive Jill Granoff served as Honorary Co-Chair.