Long sequined gowns sparkled and crisp suits cloaked tall, masculine frames as guests arrived to the 43rd annual BRAG Gala in New York City Thursday night.
It was a spectacular evening that celebrated diversity in fashion and honored some of the industry’s most distinguished icons.
Over 600 guests arrived to the gala hosted by BRAG, a New-York-based organization that has been a strong pillar of influence in recruiting and retaining diverse talent in retail and fashion-related companies.
The event was held within the spacious walls of New York’s Marriott Marquis, located in the heart of Times Square.
However, upon entering the hotel, guests were quickly removed from the area’s bustling environment and were greeted by a crowd of well-dressed attendees who represented some of the industry’s most promising young talent.
Honorees help deliver diversity
Among the night’s honorees were Alain Lafontant, the Vice President of Business Development for Sean John; Terry Lundgren, president and CEO of Macy’s Inc.; and former supermodel Iman, the CEO & Founder of Iman Cosmetics, Skincare and Fragrances.
To BRAG, each of these individuals have achieved great accolades on their journey to success. Style expert Llyod Boston hosted the event and presented the awards to each of the deserving guests.
Lundgren, who has been the head of Macy’s for close to a decade, has actively pursued his mission in creating a work force that is as diverse as the customers who shop at the mega-department store. Because of this, and the success he has earned the multi-million-dollar company, he was honored with the BRAG Business Achievement Award.
As for Iman, her walk may have landed her in some of the world’s most notable runway shows, but her entrepreneurial spirit and charitable work have made her one of fashion’s most accomplished women.
She has also proven herself to be a pioneer in the cosmetic industry after she launched Iman cosmetics to the mass market in 2004, which has since become a $25-million business and helped to make her the ideal candidate to receive the BRAG Legacy Award.
Lastly, LaFontant — who was a 1996 BRAG intern — took home the BRAG Special Recognition Award after he proved that the resources that were provided to him through BRAG helped to create a launching pad for the competitive executive positions he went on to fill at Bloomingdales, Rocawear and Sean John.
“BRAG taught me how to present myself and they focused and honed in on my weakness and made them stronger,” he told theGrio.
Gala raises money, awards scholarships
BRAG was founded over 40 years ago, and since its inception, its core mission has been to advocate for the inclusion of all people of color in retail and fashion industries.
Each year, they hold a gala to celebrate their progress and the success of their countless programs — which includes a summer-long internship, scholarships and mentoring opportunities to members of the youth.
Students who are accepted into the intensive, weeks-long internship program are trained by great leaders and provided with valuable experiences that often helps to launch promising, long-term careers with some of fashion’s biggest brands.
During Thursday night’s gala alone, over $1 million was raised, marking the most successful event the organization has had to date, according to BRAG Presdient Gail Monroe Perry.
To add to the impressive turnout, scholarships were awarded to 67 students, more than doubling the number of recipients from last year.
In addition, more than $35,000 was raised through a live auction and on-site donations, which is enough to support seven students in the internship program.
“Because of BRAG scholarships, we are given the character, confidence and education we need to succeed,” one scholarship recipient said. “To us, these scholarships not only represent funding for school, but it affirms our dreams, our hard work as students and our individual ambitions.”
As the night wrapped up and guests ate the last of the delectable desserts, music beamed through the speakers and actor-rapper Nick Cannon appeared on the dance floor, ready to rock the crowd.
Cannon, who recently launched a new tie collection at Macy’s, delivered a surprise performance and encouraged guests to dance the night away, truly making it a night for all to remember.
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