by Karen Alberg Grossman
A magical evening that raised $1.5 million in scholarship money for talented college students hoping for a career in fashion, this year’s YMA Fashion Scholarship Funds Awards Dinner, held at the Marriott Marquis, attracted 1,000 retail, wholesale and fashion industry luminaries. Hosted by the YMA’s executive director Doug Evans and emceed by FOX’s Baruch Shemtov, the event honored Stephen Sadove (Lifetime Achievement), Katia Beauchamp (Fashion Innovator of the Year), Christian Siriano (Fashion Designer) and Ken Wyse (Wholesaler of the Year).

In addition, the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund honored a slew of gifted students from 61 top colleges and universities. The top eight National Merit Scholarship finalists were each awarded grants between $10,000 and $35,000 to allow them to further their education and career goals.

In their acceptance speeches, each industry honoree shared a personal take on what makes this business so special. Sadove (formerly CEO of Saks Fifth Ave) reminded us that even in this digital age, ours is still an industry of people. Beauchamp (the CEO of Birchbox) talked about the importance of internships, noting that the key to innovation is “the ability to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.” Siriano (who had just outfitted 10 actresses at the Golden Globes) discussed the transformative power of wearing great clothes. (He jokingly alluded to the more difficult parts of his work: dealing with said actresses and dealing with retailers!) Finally, Wyse, a patron of the arts and much-admired fashion industry exec (soon to retire from PVH after 30 years), discussed his passion for education, reminding the crowd that as important as the scholarship money is the interning, mentoring, job placement and coaching that influential execs provide to these students.

Throughout the evening, the energy and enthusiasm of the students filled the air, portending an exciting future for our ever-evolving industry. To donate, mentor and/or get involved: YMAFSF.ORG or fsfconnect.org.