Fashion legend Leon Talley was honored in elegant style at Emerge! A Fashion Runway Show, held Tuesday evening at New York’s City’s historic Broad Street Ballroom.
In a room packed with media, fashion buyers and fashion and entertainment celebrities, Talley received Emerge’s Fashion Innovator Award from Diane Von Furstenberg, iconic designer, philanthropist, and president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, referring to her as “the sister I never had.”
African-American celebrities were on hand to celebrate the career of the contributing editor of the American edition of Vogue magazine and to witness the talent of Emerge!’s 2012 selection of the fashion industry’s brightest upcoming designers. Among the celebrities present were Audrey Smallz, CEO and founder of The Ground Crew Worldwide and a previous recipient of the Fashion Innovator Award; Mikki Taylor, quintessential authority on beauty and style; model-restaurateur B Smith; singer Ashanti; runway coach J “Miss J” Alexander; plus-size model Toccara; and actress Tracee Ellis Ross, who hosted the event with model and actor Chavis Aaron.
Talley’s award, presented during New York Fashion Week, is most deserving. Dedicated to mentoring and opening opportunities for young designers, Talley for more than 25 years has been a front-row regular at the elite runways of the world’s fashion capitals. He introduced First Lady Michelle Obama to designer Jason Wu, from she bought her inaugural gown. “I started the Fashion Innovator Award to show who paved the way,” Dionne Williams, president of D. Williams Public Relations group and creator and producer of Emerge!, said in her opening remarks.
Since its debut on the fashion elite social scene in February 2011, EMERGE! has provided a platform for emerging designers to showcase their work twice a year for New York City Fashion Week. “It’s very hard for anyone to emerge in this business and it’s great that you’re giving these designers a vehicle to show their work,” Talley said to Williams in accepting his award.
Mikki Taylor echoed Talley’s praise for Williams in comments to The Network Journal. “This event is critically important. If we don’t encourage our young designers and their talent, then where is fashion going? Where is its future?” she said.
African-American designers who showcased their work on Emerge!’s runway were Barbara Bates of Barbara Bates Designs; Jahi Fitzgerald, Evoli Faccion; Michael Alan stein, The Michael Alan Stein Collection; Terri Stevens, Funkinbeautiful Designs; and Elie Kuame, Elie Kuame Couture.