The Shoe Oscars: FN’s 2010 Achievement Awards

On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of covering the 24th Annual Footwear News Achievement Awards—in other words, I was in shoe-lovers paradise! The event was held at MoMA and bustling with celebrities and the best designers in the shoe industry, including Brian Atwood, Blake Mycoskie (TOMS Shoes), Jessica Alba, Michael Kors, Blake Lively, Ivanka Trump, and the man of the hour, Person of the Year award-winner/legend Christian Louboutin. The first person I got to chat with was Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes, who was receiving the award for Brand of the Year. His campaign to “give one pair to a needy child for every pair purchased” through his non-profit Friends of TOMS has been highly successful. To date, over one million pairs of shoes have been donated to kids in need as a result of Mycoskie’s efforts. Quite impressive for a company just four years old. On the fashion side, Blake looked handsome in a Band Of Outsiders suit, tie, and shirt, paired with TOMS shoes (obviously!). He walked the red carpet with the lovely Jessica Alba, who was the next person I got to chat with.

Jessica was decked out head-to-toe in a black Dolce & Gabbana blazer and sequin pants. She wore Christian Louboutin spiked black stilettos, a Steven Russell diamond necklace, and vintage bracelet. Jessica said she was “touched and honored” to be presenting the award to Mycoskie, who is a dear friend of hers. Then we talked fashion for a bit and I got the scoop on her favorite shopping spot in New York: Opening Ceremony. “They’re always reliable,” said Alba. “They have everything—I can buy a candle there if I want to!” Her favorite shoe brands include TOMS, Roger Vivier, Jeffrey Campbell, and Christian Louboutin.

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Next up was Brian Atwood, who was there to receive the award for Designer of the Year. He wore a Dior suit, Tom Ford shoes, a Prada tie, and an unknown underwear brand. Yes, I was so intent on getting the breakdown of his outfit, I even asked what brand of underwear he was wearing. Brian was a good sport though—he took a moment to think about it, realized I was joking, and then we had a chuckle. The inspiration for his collection this season was “disco, yachting, and lots of color.” His favorite style of the season is a handcrafted, top secret shoe called “Paloma” that hasn’t been released yet. So be on the lookout for that one!

By this time, the ceremony was about to start so we all began to shuffle upstairs to be seated. It was an intimate table setting and a smaller crowd by awards show standards. The ambiance was that of a dim, candlelit restaurant. The ceremony started with FN Editorial Director Michael Atmore summing up the show as, “The Shoe Oscars. A retooled Jones Group. The rise of Brian Atwood. And the command and elegance of a man named Christian Louboutin.” The show ended with a humble, gracious speech by Louboutin, who is incredibly endearing. Get a glimpse of everything in between from these memorable quotes:

“All things rare and wonderful start small.” —Dawn Mello, former president of Bergdorf Goodman and creative director at Gucci, and 2010 FN Hall of Fame inductee. “Hold me and TOMS accountable. We will remain humble and authentic in everything we do.” —Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS, winner of Brand of the Year. “I could use a drink.” —Tarek Hasson of The Tannery, winner of Independent Retailer of the Year. “Normally I wouldn’t be able to reach the microphone, but tonight I’m wearing heels.” —Charlotte Dellal, designer of Charlotte Olympia and winner of the Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent Award. “People don’t walk in these shoes. They sit at barstools and attract crowds.” —George Malkemus, president of Manolo Blahnik USA. “I’ve never been more disarmed by a person. I own so many pairs, I should be institutionalized.” —Blake Lively, during her presentation of the Person of the Year Award to Christian Louboutin. “Thank you America. American women have been the most supportive. So I have to thank America.” —Christian Louboutin, during his acceptance speech for Person of the Year.

See a full list of all the award winners at Footwear News.

Selling Their Soles (To Save Their Souls)

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Blake Mycoskie is standing outside of a movie theater on the corner of East 19th and Broadway in Manhattan. He looks scruffy in a manicured way, and he’s wearing a pair of Toms shoes inspired by traditional Argentinian footwear—a combination of Tod’s and tatami slippers. He’s here at the Tribeca Film Festival promoting For Tomorrow: The First Step of the Revolution, the new short film he produced about his entrepeneurial upstart. It’s part of the preciously titled “All Truisms” collection of films centered on world travel and benevolence. For Tomorrow, directed by Ken Kokin, chronicles Mycoskie’s experience with Toms, and his first major “drop” in Argentina. You see, for every pair of shoes he sells at places like Nordstrom, Toms gives away a pair of shoes to a child in need.

Surprisingly, and pleasantly, it’s an altruistic business model that seems to work. The film, at once anthropological and confessional, follows Mycoskie and his crew as they give shoes away en masse. For their first drop—despite little sleep, sudden downpours, and little experience—they were able to hand out 10,000 pairs of shoes. On his next excursion to Africa, he intends to part with 40,000 pairs. Mycoskie’s is a genuine desire to help people (without the sexploitation of Dov Charney and company).