Phillip Lim Says Having Michelle Obama at Fashion Week Would ‘Do Some Tremendous Things for the Industry’

Seated at a round table in the Rainbow Room this afternoon, fashion designer Phillip Lim could not believe who was sitting directly across from him at the luncheon for the Fashion Group International’s Rising Stars awards.

"I am such a big a fan," he blurted out in the direction of Miami-based interior designer Barbara Hulanicki. (Ms. Hulanicki is better known for opening the Biba boutique in the 1960s in London’s Kensington neighborhood, where Anna Wintour landed her first fashion job and Mick Jagger came to hang out.)

Ms. Hulanicki, with her her peroxide blond bob offset by large, black-framed sunglasses, graciously smiled in return. "Oh!" she said, for lack of a better thing to say in these situations. 

"I would love for you to come to my show," Mr. Lim gushed, talking over the other people at the table. "My collection is actually loosely inspired by your work. I would be so honored if you came. I’ll send you an invite, okay?"

Ms. Hulanicki smiled and turned to the Daily Transom. 

"Is that Phillip Lim?" she whispered. We nodded. "Oh, he’s great. I just saw some of his pieces at Barneys just this week."

Mr. Lim and Ms. Hulanicki were both presenters at the luncheon, where Christian Cota took home the Women’s Ready to Wear Rising Star award, Sergio Davil took the Men’s Apparel award, and Hollander & Lexer boutique won the Retail category. (The real celebrity of the day seemed to be designer Jason Wu, who, despite being just a guest, was fielding congratulations before, during, and after the ceremony for his Inauguration Day coup of having Michelle Obama wear his dress to all 10 Inaugural Balls.)

The award proceedings had the usual awkwardness of a mid-day ceremony. Margaret Hayes, the president of the Fashion Group, got off to a rocky start when she had trouble pronouncing the keynote address speaker Tory Burch‘s name. "Tory Byorch … Tory Birch … Ms. Burch!"

Then Paul Morelli had similar trouble when announcing the Fine Jewelry nominees, pronouncing Ivanka Trump‘s name "E-ven-ka Trump" several times to mischievous snickers in the audience. 

Ms. Lim, who was scheduled to go last to announce the winner in the women’s ready to wear category, was studiously reading over his lines. 

"Public speaking is always terrifying for me," said Mr. Lim. "At least I have a script. I try to listen to music and I try to think of every other thing besides what I actually have to do. I was actually listening to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs earlier. Karen O is so good."

And how has he been getting ready for his show in a few weeks?

"Listening to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs!" exclaimed Mr. Lim. "We’re taking it in stride. It’s tough economic times and I think we all have to inspire. We can’t walk away from the situation. It is what it is. There is no shame in your game. You should step up and swing that bat as hard as you can."

The Daily Transom wondered what the designer thought about Mrs. Obama possibly showing up at New York Fashion Week. 

"I hope she does!" said Mr. Lim. "It would certainly do some tremendous things for the industry and she seems like she’s rooting for the underdogs. If she showed, I’d have to listen to lots of Yeah Yeah Yeahs. But I think I would be so stressed backstage it wouldn’t even matter who’s out there."



Phillip Lim Says Having Michelle Obama at Fashion Week Would ‘Do Some Tremendous Things for the Industry’