The hallway entrance to the annual Savannah College of Art and Design Etoile awards, hosted at the James Cohan Gallery in Chelsea on Monday, March 23, was lined with blown up, borderline-unflattering headshots of the evening’s honorees.
“It’s a little scary to walk in and see a big photo of yourself!” remarked the fashion columnist Robin Givhan, one of the evening’s award recipients along with hip hop mogul and designer Russell Simmons, costume designer William Ivey Long, and socialite Cornelia Guest.
“I don’t know how I fit in with them, but especially now, it’s gratifying to be recognized as a newspaper reporter,” Mr. Givhan told the Daily Transom. Earlier that day, Ms. Givhan had announced that she would be relocating to Washington D.C. to cover Michelle Obama, the first family and other pertinent social issues. Would she find the D.C. fashion scene limiting?
“Living here, I never really wrote specifically about New York women or New York trends, so no,” she replied. “And I always say, you don’t find a more image-obsessed group of people than the ones who live on Capitol Hill.”
Ms. Givhan was not the only design honoree in the room who wasn’t specifically a designer. Amanda Burden, director of New York City Planning, was also receiving an Etoile award.
“I’m a city designer!” Ms. Burden, dressed in a blazer with geometrical pattern, told the Daily Transom. “I try to celebrate design in the city both in large scale with iconic buildings down to the very small scale with the design of a small park or a homeless shelter.”
Ms. Burden was especially excited about the design of a certain nearby city project. “It’s actually right on this street,” she said. Did she mean the High Line?
“Exactly,” she replied. “It’s opening in June. It’s completely innovative, but it’s also a public amenity.”
Kicking off the ceremony was recently laid-off vice president of women’s fashion at Saks, Michael Fink.
“I am enjoying doing nothing,” he confessed. Since his departure, he has spent his newfound free time visiting friends and traveling a bit. “I’m just keeping everything open,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Just as Mr. Fink was about to take the podium, Mr. Simmons and his girlfriend, 23-year-old model Julie Henderson, were rushed inside by the organizers. The Transom inquired about the new friend Mr. Simmons recently made at one of his yoga classes—former call girl Ashley Dupre.
“I don’t hang out with her too often, but I am inspired by her,” he said. “I just got an email from her about her next blog about coming home, back to her family, and, well, I shouldn’t give it away should I? Anyway, I just I think her whole transformation is…exciting.”