The Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce Hosts First Annual State of Style Awards on Capitol Hill
By Madeleine Frank
It is rare that you hear the words “fashion” and “politics” together, unless it’s a complaint about the lack of connection or enormous praise over one or two sole lawmakers who seem to have gotten it right. But theGreater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce’s (GWFCC) is making steps in an attempt to change all of that – for lawmakers to take the fashion industry seriously as an economic and cultural asset to the country.
Following several hours of advocacy meetings with various representatives on Capitol Hill, the GWFCC’s
luncheon last week honored trailblazers in the fashion industry and recipients of their First Annual State of Style Awards. The event was hosted by Angie Goff of WUSA-TV channel 9 and ohmygoff.tv, who prides herself on working to get fashion in mainstream television by profiling star designers in D.C.
Christine Brooks-Cropper, president of GWFCC, opened the event by discussing fashion as an asset to economic development. She explained why fashion should be taken seriously, a sentiment echoed by president of Fern Mallis, LLC and creator of NY Fashion Week Fern Mallis, as well as others who spoke. Mallis was awarded the Elements of Fashion Legacy Award for her work “turning a concept [of NY Fashion Week] into reality” and for being “an inspiration” to others in the fashion industry that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, as Brooks-Cropper described while holding back tears.
Also honored at the event was Peruvian jewelry designer Evelyn Brooks, recently featured in our Best of Peru story. Brooks moved to the United States in 2004 and works to expand the business that her parents launched in Peru fifty years ago. In accepting the GWFCC Chamber of Choice Award, Brooks spoke of social responsibility and thanked both her husband and her mother for their continued support.
An award for leadership in emerging business was given to Save the Garment Center, Inc., a group dedicated to preventing developers from slowly chipping away at the Garment District in New York City. Presenting this award was Don Cravins, Staff Director of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Also honored were Lara Miller, emerging designer and executive director of the Chicago Fashion Incubator, and Drexel University freshman Adegbemisola Ademisoye, who won the 2009 Project Fundway contest. Four models showed off Ademisoye’s designs as she posed proudly with her mother to accept her award.
Michael A. Brown, event chair and at-large member of the council of the District of Columbia, left budget meetings to speak to the crowd and receive the Honorary Fashion Leadership Award. Brown chairs the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development.
The message of the afternoon was that the fashion industry can be a huge economic asset to the country, as well as a cultural one. Fern Mallis explained that “In countries like France and Italy, fashion is a huge part of how they’re viewed around the world…more people around the world know who Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger are than some of the politicians not far from here – they are our ambassadors.” The honorees at this event all work at some level to help American designers compete globally around the world. As a parting thought, Mallis encouraged attendees to “keep fashion, creativity, and our industry on Washington’s agenda.”
Madeleine Frank is a rising sophomore at Harvard University. She plans to study English and pursue a career in magazine journalism.