Neiman Marcus celebrates its prestigious awards ceremony in Paris
Texans sure do love things big and grand. Their taste for fashion is no exception, largely due to the tony shopping mecca Neiman Marcus. Eighty-five years ago, the Dallas-based retailer showed its appreciation for the masters of design it stocked in its stores by establishing the Neiman Marcus awards.
On Sunday night during Paris Fashion Week, the Neiman Marcus Group reinstated its prestigious prize in Paris for the first time since 2016 and, in outsized Texas fashion, expanded the ceremony to bestow three designers; Brunello Cucinelli, Jonathan Anderson, and Amina Muaddi with a splashy Parisian affair. Held at La Girafe Suite overlooking the Eiffel Tower, the night was topped off by an exceptional performance by Noah Cyrus, the sister of Miley Cyrus.
Geoffroy van Raemdonck, NMG's CEO, led the affair, along with Lana Todorovich, president and chief merchandising officer of Neiman Marcus. Guests such as designers Rosita Missoni (past award winner), Margherita Missoni, Angela Missoni, Rick Owens and wife Michèle Lamy, Bruno Frisoni, perfumer Francis Kurkdjian and fashion devotees Olivia Palermo and Ashley Park, both dressed in Brunello Cucinelli, enjoyed signature cocktails while van Raemdonck introduced the honorees and handed out statues to the three winners noting that their designer partnerships account for a "couple of billions of revenue a year." (The group reported $4.9 billion in 2022)
The Neiman Marcus Award Innovation in the Field of Fashion went to shoe designer Amina Muaddi who noted in her acceptance speech that "it's not often that an accessories designer gets the same recognition as ready-to-wear" and that she was honored to be given an award that was also given to Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli. Accepting the Neiman Marcus Award for Creative Impact in the Field of Fashion, Loewe's creative director Jonathan Anderson acknowledged his team for "putting up with him on good days and bad days" and also thanked the retailer for being there from the beginning and believing in him when no one else did.
Using a translator, Brunello Cucinelli gave a heartfelt speech in Italian, saying that the goal of his business was to elevate the lives of the workers of Umbria so that, unlike his father, they would not feel shame for their station in the economic ecosystem. A special mention was given to Rosita Missoni, and her family, which the CEO pointed out have partnered with Neiman Marcus for fifty years.
Speaking to FashionNetwork.com, van Raemdonck further explained the impetus of the nights' event, which in the past took place in Texas and Los Angeles.
"Luxury is a global business, so we thought it was the perfect place to honor these designers in the city of fashion because none of them are from here," he explained, adding, "At the end of the day, we are a luxury multi-brand retailer, but it's about fashion. This celebration feels very fashion week, like an after-party." Not to mention it was a clever way to get everyone gathered simultaneously.
A lot has changed in fashion since the awards were established in 1938. The CEO explained that the awards have also evolved.
"If you look back in history, when it was launched as the fashion industry began, there was one award. Christian Dior received his award when his house was three years old for creating The New Look. Now 76 years later, the award for Distinguished Service goes to an accomplished person, but there are other designers creating work today that are the version of Christian’s award that honored his innovations," he continued.
Van Raemdonck quickly pointed out that the awards are not limited to designers and that Grace Kelly was a recipient. "We look to honor people who are more than their job. If you look at Brunello, who is also interested in sustaining human capital, or Amina, who created an amazing business in just five years, using vegan leather in her collection."
The festivities and guests started to peter out around 11, but the awards will continue to impact throughout the year, according to the retailer. "Originally, the awards were about bringing the designers not known in the US, today they have established businesses, and Neiman Marcus has the best clientele in the States. The award is also about giving access to our marketing and merchandising capabilities to the honorees," van Raemdonck said, pointing out that thus far, Brunello has made a second exclusive co-branded collection designed especially with the Neiman Marcus customers in mind. "This is his gift to that customer that knows his product well," he said.
Cucinelli will host in-store events in April, the others are still thinking about how the award will manifest to the clients. "There will be digital activations and events, I'm open to anything," van Raemdonck offered, adding, "For partners like Amina, which is a fast and growing business, our commitment is multi-year because we recognize her talent and want to grow her business. Brunello will tell you his brand was identified early by Neiman Marcus, and we asked him to go beyond the categories he was making that helped him scale his business. One day Amina could be the recipient of the Distinguished Service award."
"We are retailers and always looking at the customers to give them something special. Neiman Marcus is about the relationship with your sales associate that introduces you to a brand you didn't consider before and gives you the inspiration and confidence to try it. That is what we do, we are a relationship business."
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