Williams will receive the Fashion Icon Breakthrough Award for her achievements both on and off the court, from investing in companies that embrace diversity to launching her own clothing line, S by Serena, and a collection with Signet Jewelers, Serena Williams Jewelry available exclusively at Zales, that aims to empower young women.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion and entrepreneur joins fellow honorees FIT alumna Brandice Daniel, founder and CEO of Harlem’s Fashion Row and an advisory council member of the Social Justice Center at FIT; Aerin Lauder, founder of Aerin and style and image director of Estée Lauder; and television and film producer Debra Martin Chase.
Daniel will receive the Outstanding FIT Alumni Award for her work in creating a platform for designers of color during New York Fashion Week and supporting women in building thriving businesses.
Lauder will be recognized with the Business and Entrepreneurship Award for the entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen, and creative vision that has helped build her eponymous brand Aerin into a globally recognized luxury lifestyle brand.
And finally, Chase will receive the Vanguard in Entertainment Award. She is credited with breaking barriers in Hollywood by becoming the first Black woman to produce a movie grossing over $100 Million (“The Princess Diaries”) and to have a major studio producing deal (Disney) while consistently creating film and television that empowers women, shatters stereotypes, and promotes diversity in the industry. Her reboot of “The Equalizer” franchise starring Queen Latifah was the number one new television show last season.
The black-tie gala will be hosted by FIT alumni Nina Garcia, Elle editor-in-chief and “Project Runway” judge, and Michael Kors, chief creative officer of the Michael Kors brand. According to FIT, the annual gala benefits the FIT Foundation, which helps nurture the next generation of the college’s students. In addition to facilitating programs and developing new initiatives, the Foundation provided scholarships totaling more than $3 million in 2021.