The 35th annual event, which honored Jones Group Inc. CEO Wes Card and designer Rebecca Minkoff, hosted about 700 attendees and raised $1.3 million for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“It’s a record year for [giving], and we have great honorees,” said AAFA President and CEO Kevin Burke, who has known Card, the Man of the Year, for 12 years. “Little did I know we had to promise him an aircraft carrier to get this thing done,” Burke quipped about the event’s location.
The evening’s hosts included Broadway stars Bernadette Peters and Brian Stokes Mitchell, with a keynote speech by actor Bill Pullman.
Peters chose a pair of black Christian Louboutin heels for the gig, but said she often opts for Manolo Blahnik when performing. “They’re so comfortable,” she said.
The first award went to New Balance for Brand of the Year and was accepted by company President and CEO Rob DeMartini. His speech touched on the One Fund Boston, to which New Balance donated $1 million. “The outpouring of support makes us proud to say we’re from Boston,” DeMartini said.
Tory Burch, who presented the Retailer of the Year award to Saks Inc. CEO Steve Sadove and President Ron Frasch, took the stage next. “I don’t know any woman who wouldn’t want to spend their entire life on the Saks shoe floor and use [10022-SHOE] as their zip code,” joked the designer.
Sadove stepped to the microphone first, thanking the entire Saks team and leaving Frasch with little to say.
“I have no one left to thank, thanks to you Steve,” Frasch joked.
Rebecca Minkoff won Designer of the Year and was joined on the stage by her brother and company CEO Uri Minkoff.
The designer thanked her family for her success, particularly her mother “for teaching me how to sew and make the dresses she wouldn’t buy me.”
Added Uri Minkoff, “It’s really cool for Rebecca to win this award and it speaks to the growth of the brand.”
The final honor went to Card, who was surrounded by his family and team, including designer Rachel Roy.
“I’m very proud of Wes. I chose to [partner] with Jones because of him,” said Roy. “He’s a very kind man.”
Foot Locker Inc. Chairman and CEO Ken Hicks presented Card with his award, recalling, “We’ve had a lot of very lively conversations [over the years] about markdowns and returns.”
On stage, Card thanked his family, including his wife and two of his three sons who were in attendance. “They were thrilled to be on the red carpet,” he said.