It was the ultimate power gathering at the 26th Annual Footwear News Achievement Awards.
From the hottest designers to the world’s top retailers, the star-powered crowd packed into the elegant space inside the Museum of Modern Art.
“The marathoners are the women in this room who can wear these shoes all day long,” quipped Neiman Marcus Group President and CEO Karen Katz, who was on stage just after ultramarathoner Scott Jurek presented the Brand of the Year award to Brooks Sports.
Katz, sporting Charlotte Olympia’s glittery Astrid style, was on hand to give Charlotte Olympia Dellal her Designer of the Year honor.
“I love Old Hollywood and last night was the closest I got to winning an Oscar,” Dellal tweeted Wednesday, still basking in the glow of her big night.
Miranda Kerr shone bright in the FNAA spotlight, wearing a floral short suit and Tabitha Simmons shoes, to present her good friend with the inaugural Style Influencer of the Year award.
“She’s one of the most chic, fun and stylish people I know,” said the superstar model.
Simmons, who three years ago was named Launch of the Year, talked about how much has changed since her debut in 2009.
“I still feel like I’m at the kiddos table in a room full of giants,” said the designer.
Some of those giants were the Hall of Fame Inductees, of course, including Saks Fifth Avenue’s Ron Frasch, Stephen Rubin of the Pentland Group and Ron Fromm of Brown Shoe Co., who was introduced by Fergie.
“I’m sure you know I have a sexy little shoe line on the side,” the songstress said of her namesake brand, operated by Fromm and his team at Brown.
Fergie shared a story about her first business trip with Fromm, where they swapped photos and stories about their families. It was then she new the partnership was the perfect fit. “How humbling for me to get introduced by Fergie,” Fromm said.
Another star-powered moment came when New York Giants player Victor Cruz presented the Athletic Retailer of the Year award to Ken Hicks and the team at Foot Locker.
The athlete proudly talked about his 350-pair shoe collection, mostly composed of Air Jordans. Still, he chose a more dressed-up Calvin Klein style for the big night.
“I didn’t get the memo — if I had known, I would definitely have worn some sneakers,” he joked. (Hicks took the stage in a pair of Brooks running shoes, as a nod to the award-winning brand.)
The Rebecca Minkoff team chose two BFFs — model Hilary Rhoda and The Man Repeller blogger Leandra Medine — to present the brother-sister pair with their award.
“I’m always so happy to support Becky because she’s one of the first brands that turned to social media. She forged this relationship with her followers and made them feel like they’re her best friends,” said Medine, who Instagramed a shoe look on stage to honor the brand’s social media efforts. “When I first met her, I sort of assumed we were going to be friends because in my head we already were.”
Meanwhile, Kenneth Cole had many touching words for his longtime friend Sam Edelman, who won FN’s Brand of the Year.
There were newcomers in the room too, including Sophia Webster, who received the Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent award. Webster, who was trained as a design assistant by powerhouse Nicholas Kirkwood, was grateful for the relationship that started it all.
“It’s been a great day for both of us. I’m really excited and happy to be here. It’s a real honor,” said Webster, who added that she recently went to see her shoes at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks in New York. “It’s amazing to see the shoes. I found myself tying up the laces and making them look nice. I talked to the shop assistant and asked about how the line was selling. It was all good news.”
Presenting the award to Webster was Tali Lennox, daughter of Annie Lenox, who was wearing one of the new designs. “Sophia’s shoes are really full of character, and I like the references to the 1960s. They’re quite quirky and different and fun,” Lennox said.
Anna Sui was also in the room to present the Company of the Year award to Blake Krueger and Wolverine World Wide Inc.
And “What Not to Wear” host Clinton Kelly presented Macy’s with the Retailer of the Year award. Kelly has worked with Macy’s on some advertising campaigns over the years.
“I spent three months in the Macy’s dressing room with women in their underwear. I saw some things I never wanted to see,” he quipped, while adding that the department store’s recently revamped shoe floor is a sight to see. “Its like the eighth Wonder of the World.”
But it was industry legend Stuart Weitzman who closed out the night with full fanfare. As a surprise to some in the room, Steve Wynn presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to the designer, who he affectionately called “Stewie.” (The pair met at the University of Pennsylvania, where they became fraternity brothers).
“He was the most popular guy in the fraternity room. When he said he was going to spend his life making women happy, who knew he was talking about shoes?” joked Wynn.
The resort mogul wasn’t the only one showing support for Weitzman — pop superstar Beyonce created a video that aired at the awards, where she thanked Weitzman for the styles she often wears on tour.
“I’ve literally danced a thousand miles in his shoes,” she said via video. “Congrats to Stuart Weitzman on a lifetime of making women feel beautiful and comfortable in his shoes.”
When Weitzman took the stage, he referred to his time in the industry as a hobby, but assured the room that his journey in the business isn’t over quite yet.
“A lifetime award implies the end,” said Weitzman. “I’m sorry it’s not the end of the game. I like this too much.”