“Giving back is the new luxury.” That was the mantra repeated several times over the course of Fashion 4 Development’s Fourth Annual First Ladies Luncheon, held at the Pierre Hotel on Tuesday. The luncheon, held in concurrence with the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, brought together leaders of the fashion industry with various first ladies from around the globe to celebrate those who have raised awareness and created positive social change through the voice of fashion. Among those receiving awards were Gery Keszler, founder of AIDS Life and Life Ball; Debbie Levin, president of the Environmental Media Association; Caroline Scheufele, copresident of Chopard; Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, chairman of BRAC, and Donna Karan, who received the event’s headlining award, the Medal of Honor.
Other guests included Madam Ban Soon-Taek, first lady of the United Nations; Crown Princess Mette Marit; Livia Firth; Sabrina Tan, chief executive officer of Skin Inc.; actress Amy Smart; models Alek Wek and Lily Cole; fashion designers Stella Jean and Ali Karoui, and E correspondent Alicia Quarles, who acted as emcee.
Evie Evangelou, president and founder of Fashion 4 Development, and Franca Sozzani, the previous recipient of the award and one of the event’s cohosts, presented Karan with the medal, citing her work with Urban Zen. “People ask, ‘Why Haiti?’” Karan said. “And I ask myself that all the time. It was a gift from God. Going to Haiti for me has truly changed my life, and working with the artisans in Haiti has really given me a whole new perspective.” Prior to her speech, Karan offered the one piece of advice she’d give to young women trying to make their own impact on the world. “Go out and explore the world,” she said. “Go out and explore where your own initial creativity comes from.”