By Michael Dumlao
Exhausted but exhilarated, we’ve just returned from a networking weekend in the Hamptons promoting Fashion Fights Poverty amongst influential trend setters and decision makers in the fashion, entertainment and PR industries. With posters, postcards and a portfolio in tow, we rolled into our first visit to this fabled community poised to meet, greet and engage new potential sponsors, partners and contacts for FFP. After spending our first evening at an art gallery opening hosted by Forest Whitaker then enjoying cocktails at a launch party for “Lucid” (America’s first legal absinthe liquor), we knew that, if nothing else, the weekend would provide ample opportunities for fun, memories and strategic name-dropping in times ahead.
Saturday was spent in Donna Karan’s SUPER SATURDAY, the behemoth “Rolls Royce” of charity sample sales, where thousands of fashion acolytes shopped over 300 vendors to raise millions of dollars for Ovarian Cancer Research. The FFP booth, set alongside Donna Karan’s vendor area, was adorned with 6 foot high banners featuring photos of Brad Arnold and Danielle Peck (by Douglas Sonders), Jaci Reid (by Tim Coburn), and FFP models Sean and Nancy (by Michael Dumlao), newly minted postcards, Aid To Artisan’s Hand/ Eye Magazine, info packets, and a preview of this year’s “Dress Responsibly” Look Book. Our participation in Super Saturday also signaled the launch of the beautiful (and quickly popular)“FFP Charm,” designed by Peruvian jeweler Evelyn Brooks. Once we finished setting up, we noticed that without intending it, we were all wearing white pants. I thought “typical,” given how after years of planning FFP we’ve all started to act (and dress) in synch. We each secretly hoped that no one thought we were a multi-cultural song group trying to revive “Up With People.”
As the day progressed, we took turns between answering people’s questions about FFP and shopping our collective asses off between vendors like Juicy Couture, Catherine Malandrino, Ben Sherman, Ted Baker and D Squared. We even met up with our old friends at EDUN (last year’s featured catwalk brand) and a new socially-conscious clothing collection called “Revolution.” Gathering business cards like kids in a couture candy store, our biggest successes came when the event’s celebrities graciously stopped by our booth to take photos with FFP founders and staff in front of our banners and sometimes holding our FFP Charms. Starting with Beth Ostrosky (Howard Stern’s fiancée), we were later graced with Kelly Ripa, Tichina Arnold, Rachel Zoe, and Elizabeth Hasselbeck. Thank you ladies for shooting with us!
The highlight of the day, however, came around 430pm when the hostess herself dropped by to say hello (alongside her “partner-in-crime,” Ms. Sonja Nuttall). Let the record show that we, at FFP, love Donna Karan. Dressed in a loose-fitting T-shirt spray painted by one of her graffiti artists, Donna evoked a down-to-earth, fun-loving warmth and a genuine enthusiasm for Fashion Fights Poverty that blew us away. She not only thanked us for being there, but wanted to learn more about how we got started, what were our plans and even started to brainstorm about ways we could work together. I’ll write a separate blog entry soon about Donna’s amazing charity work and what our quickfire brainstorming may yield one day, but for now I’ll note that we were honored that she took time to get to know us.
Later that evening, we trudged home with the fashion deals of the century. From $75 Jimmy Choos to $20 Catherine Malandrinos, the FFP team was determined to do its share in lightening the vendor’s load at the end of the event. After recovering, we prepped for dinner with the DKNY crew at The Driver Seat in Southampton where we enjoyed wonderful conversation with Edward Callaghan and John Wegorzeski, founders of Alchimia (a NY-based PR and marketing firm specializing in large-scale, high-end events). Some of us would later party onwards at the Star Room club with hosts Russell Simmons and Heather Graham (though we’ll reserve gossip about Ms. Graham’s antics for cocktails down the road).
We expired that night exhausted but elated, ready to tackle more excitement in the morning to come.