Last night, the 33rd Annual American Image Awards honored the marketing geniuses who help build companies like UGG and William Rast into the global brands they are today. All of the proceeds from the event went to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, a total that was said to reach around $1.1 million. The show was hosted by TV personality Robert Verdi, who I had a chance to chat with on the red carpet. Verdi, who was decked out in seriously shiny patent leather Sergio Rossi shoes and a Piaget diamond encrusted watch, bragged, “I’m really, really rich. I can afford sex and diamonds!”
But mention of his McQueen sunglasses caused the flamboyant style to get serious. “I wear them everyday to honor him,” Verdi said. “He was such a brilliant talent and it was such a devastating loss.”
Next, I spoke with Colin Dyne of William Rast, winner of Brand of the Year. William Rast is Justin Timberlake’s clothing company, and has become a major label since its birth six years ago. Dyne was sporting William Rast jeans and a shirt and jacket from J. Lindeberg, partner company to William Rast. He said he was “honored” to be awarded with Brand of the Year after such a short time. He also said he and Justin Timberlake hang out all the time and that he’s an “amazing partner” in the company. Great jeans and hanging out with Justin Timberlake all the time? Duh, winning!
After a couple near-misses I finally found Donna Karan, easily the busiest woman of the evening. (Her company’s CEO & Chairman, Mark Weber, was being awarded Man of the Year.) I gushed about how she’s my favorite designer, and she gushed about how I was her favorite reporter. Well, sort of. What she actually said was “I wish my daughter felt that way! She wore Donna Karan, so I started DKNY for her. But before that, she had to wear Donna Karan. She used to rob my closet!” Then she went on to say, “I just opened my spring collection from Urban Zen. It’s buy now, so it’s not ahead of season, it’s in season. And that’s something I feel really strongly about. For the customer to be able to buy in the current season.”
Presenters included Whoop Goldberg, Susan Plagemann of Vogue, and Mike Milken. Other Winners included Neiman Marcus for Retailer of the Year, UGG Australia for Footwear of the Year, and Ruben & Isabel Toledo for Fashion Maverick. See full details about the annual American Image Awards and The Apparel and Footwear Association here.