Kenneth Cole, Rebecca Hessel Cohen, and FIT Alumna Norma Kamali Honored at 2024 Gala

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On Wednesday, May 8, FIT held its Annual Awards Gala, which included the Future of Fashion Runway Show presented by Macy’s, at The Glasshouse in New York City. The event, hosted by supermodel and philanthropist Carolyn Murphy, benefited the FIT Foundation, which is dedicated to nurturing the next generation of FIT students by facilitating programs, developing new initiatives, and providing scholarships. Additionally, Tamron Hall announced the creation of the Kenneth Cole Social Impact Award, to benefit a student who shows outstanding engagement in social impact.

Norma Kamali, who received the Outstanding Alumni Award, presented by Matthew Yokobosky, said: “Determination is more important than even talent, that and the help of the universe and all its pushing and prodding, I am still on my path and the universe is still keeping me in line with my purpose. The most important time of your life is what you learn before you transition into the workforce. How you listen, how you learn, and how you study. How you follow instructions, and how you discipline yourself to meet deadlines and reach goals. These are the tools used in the life of everyone successful in fashion.”

In presenting the award to her, Yokobosky said: “Tonight we are honoring the great designer, innovator and social thinker Norma Kamali with the Outstanding Alumni Award, and she truly is impressive. Going from decade-to-decade, keeping up on what the moment is about, and transforming that moment into memorable fashions, have been keys to her longevity and relevance!”

Kenneth Cole, who received the Social Impact Award, presented by Tamron Hall, said: “I’ve always believed that fashion can be a means to not just define how we present ourselves to the world, but also a vehicle to positively impact it. A powerful, creative way to respectfully and peacefully communicate our commonality as well as our differences.”

In presenting the award to him, Hall said: “Kenneth Cole understood the assignment. The assignment was, of course, to be a successful businessperson, but the assignment was higher than any heel: the responsibility to humankind. In honor of Kenneth Cole’s 40 years of leadership merging social impact with fashion, the FIT Kenneth Cole Social Impact Award has been established to benefit students who demonstrate a commitment to creating awareness for social justice issues while building their careers in the fashion industry.”

Rebecca Hessel Cohen, who received the Entrepreneurship Award, presented by Jordan Roth, said: “As far back as I can remember, storytelling has been a part of my life—it’s what inspired me to create LoveShackFancy. Storytelling led to dreaming, dreaming led to creating and hard work led to an unexpected new business that has brought generations of girls and women together. But working hard is in my DNA—it’s all I have ever wanted to do.”

In presenting the award to her, Roth said: “They always say fashion is about creating a world. Well, LoveShackFancy is a whole wide wonderful world! And a community of people who want to live in that world, and revel in it and celebrate themselves in it. Celebrating femininity and beauty and joy and pinkness. People who share Rebecca’s belief that playing dress up never has to end, no matter your age, and that the reason to dance is because it’s Wednesday. It’s a rose-tinted world of all things dreamy and drenched in optimism.”

Guests included Dr. Joyce F. Brown, president, FIT; Frederick Anderson, designer, founder, Frederick Anderson Group LLC; Ken Downing, creative director, HALSTON; Victor Glemaud, designer, Victor Glemaud; Mara Hoffman, designer, Mara Hoffman; Candice Huffine, model and activist; Noah Kozlowski, vice president and head of designer relations, N4XT Experiences; Brandon Maxwell, designer, Brandon Maxwell; Francisco Costa, designer and founder, Costa Brazil; Fern Mallis, entrepreneur and philanthropist; B Michael, designer and author; Jean Shafiroff, philanthropist and author; Ramona Singer, personality and philanthropist; Amber Valletta, model and activist, and FIT’s Sustainability Ambassador; Constance White, fashion journalist and author; Zaldy, designer.

“Our talented students really are exceptional,” President Brown said. “They arrive at our doors, bursting with talent and energy and creativity and intelligence, with a firm belief that they know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives. They’re highly motivated and they are deeply determined. They have big dreams.”

Dr. Brown also said, “Tonight, we have the privilege of honoring three trailblazers and influencers, and that was before being an influencer was a thing. Each of them has left a lasting imprint on the aspect of the industry that they represent.”

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