Talk about a power pack.
The 27th annual FN Achievement Awards, held Tuesday night at New York’s IAC Building, brought together many of the industry’s most influential players, from honorees Vince Camuto and Diane Sullivan to top retailers such Bergdorf Goodman pair Josh Schulman and Linda Fargo, and incoming Saks Fifth Avenue President Marigay McKee. Celebrities including Jessica Simpson and Kristin Cavallari, and designers such as Tory Burch, were also on hand.
Camuto, the winner of the Manolo Blahnik Lifetime Achievement Award, gave one of the evening’s most heartfelt speeches, reminiscing about his illustrious career and his love for family. (All five of Camuto’s children and his wife, Louise Camuto, were in the audience.)
“My mother always said, ‘You can do anything,’” Camuto said about his life’s mantra.
And he certainly has — building two powerhouse companies and helping create blockbuster brands like Jessica Simpson. “I met Vince eight years ago and he changed my life. I’m all about a family business — after all, everyone in my family is in my business and I can’t get rid of them,” the songstress quipped.
Tory Burch also came out to support Camuto, her partner on her footwear line. “How lucky can I be [to have] Jessica, Tory Burch and my wife beside me?,” Camuto said.
Designer of the Year Gianvito Rossi also was thankful, for some great advice from his father. “He always told me to do better,” he recalled.
Hudson’s Bay power duo Liz Rodbell and Marigay McKee were also in the house. In fact, McKee, who will soon take the reins at Saks, was presenting her first award in America to longtime partner Neil Clifford, CEO of Kurt Geiger, who received the Retailer of the Year honor. “Even when we were a big fish in a small pond, we always knew we had to make the jump to becoming a small fish in a big pond,” Clifford said, referring to the company’s expansion into the U.S. market.
Meanwhile, Rodbell accepted the Newsmaker of the Year award, expressing gratitude to her presenter and close friend, Steve Madden. “Thank you for your friendship and sense of humor, which is special, to say the least,” she joked.
Madden, who sported his signature baseball hat, injected a dose of sarcasm into his speech. “I’m glad I didn’t win because I certainly did make a lot of news — many years ago,” he joked of his infamous prison sentence.
Another pair of close friends, Deckers CEO Angel Martinez and Sullivan, also reminisced about their long relationship — they first met at The Rockport Co. Martinez was on hand to honor the Brown CEO with Person of the Year honors. “It’s because I’ve been around for a while,” Sullivan joked.
Fashion fixtures Harry and Peter Brant II might have presented Louis Leeman and Erica Pelosini with their award for Emerging Talent, but the men’s label also had another big fan in the house. Fashion blogger Bryan Boy (aka Bryan Gray Yambao) sported a pair of gilded Louis Leeman smoking slippers on the red carpet, and he couldn’t wait to sing their praises.
“[Louis] is the man of the hour,” Yambao told Spy. “He makes incredible shoes, and I have supported him for like the past three years. If you’re a designer, it’s really important to create something [unique], and his shoes are something I had never seen before. It’s amazing to see the brand’s rise — especially because they are opening a store in New York next year —and see it penetrate America and different countries.”
The other Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent honor went to Edgardo Osorio of Aquazzura, who invited friend and fashion darling Olivia Palermo to give him his award. “To watch you evolve as a shoe designer has been amazing,” she said.
Kristin Cavallari, who is expecting her second child, helped induct Bob Goldman into the Hall of Fame. It sounds like she might have a few more footwear tricks up her sleeve, too.
“Now I think we can discuss children’s and men’s shoes,” she hinted, while on stage.
Journalist Alina Cho awarded Launch of the Year to newcomer Paul Andrew. “I’ve been waiting my entire life for someone like him,” she said. “His shoes have a goldilocks fit: not too narrow and not too wide.”
“If I’ve won you over Alina, I must have done something right,” Andrew said as he took the stage.
Marketer of the Year Salvatore Ferragamo was feted by musician Sophie Auster, who said proudly, “That was my song you just heard!” about the introductory music.
Brands of the Year Skechers USA and Birkenstock celebrated their comeback stories. Marathoner Meb Keflezighi presented Skechers President Michael Greenberg with his award, while Daymond John of “Shark Tank” honored Birkenstock.
The sandal brand’s U.S. front man, David Kahan, spoke of the brand’s resurgence. “Most people will tell you they are the ugliest shoes you’ve ever seen. But there have been six ‘Star Wars’ movies, two world wars, eight ‘Harry Potter’ movies and 240 years later, one thing remains the same: our shoes.”
Other winners included Company of the Year VF Corp., and DSW’s Debbie Ferrée was inducted into the Hall of Fame.