Kenneth Cole joined Fern Mallis on Wednesday for an intimate discussion about his career and efforts to support funding for AIDS research. The event, held at the 92nd Street Y in New York, was part of the cultural center’s Fashion Icons series.
Cole, who is chairman of amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, introduced the documentary he produced, “The Battle of amfAR,” which tells the story of how Swiss research scientist Matilde Krim and actress Elizabeth Taylor teamed to create America’s first AIDS research association to fight the spread of the deadly virus.
After the screening, Barneys New York’s ambassador-at-large, Simon Doonan, and actor Alan Cumming joined the pair on stage for a post-screening discussion about fashion, social engagement and the continuing fight against AIDS.
On whether he gains greater satisfaction from designing or philanthropy, Cole said, “I love making clothes. … It is a platform to do something greater, to do good.”
Recently back from New Delhi, where he celebrated the opening of the seventh Kenneth Cole store in India, the executive remained tight-lipped on topics related to his company’s business strategy, but said the e-commerce side is expanding rapidly.
Cole added that he has enjoyed spending time out of the limelight after taking his firm private last year. “Twenty years ago, I believed that [an IPO] is part of what you’re supposed to do. … It was a more exciting day when we went private. Nobody wants to be public unless they have to be and unless they need the money.”