Beating the Thom-Thom for Museum at FIT’s annual Couture Council Lunch

Monday, August 28, 2017

It’s almost that time of year again: New York Fashion Week. Before the beautiful chaos of spring/summer 2018 shows and presentations sets into motion, comes the annual Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Couture Council Luncheon.

The event, co-chaired by Sharon Jacob and Kathy Prounis, will be held on September 6th at the David H. Koch theatre at Lincoln Center. This year’s artistry of fashion award will go to global luxury ready-to-wear and accessories designer Thom Browne. “There’s a huge embrace of his talent and craftsmanship,” Kamie Lightburn, chairman of the Couture Council, says of the honoree. “He has a very unique vision and designs with a keen sensibility of fabrication. When you’re wearing Thom Browne, people in the know get it.”

Yes, while some may think of Browne’s signature shrunken suit jackets and tight-fitting, above-the-knee shorts (with the red, white and blue striped logo somewhere in sight) is bizarre, those in the fashion world indeed appreciate the look. Over the years, Browne has been named menswear designer of the year three times by the CFDA and received the Cooper Hewitt national design award.

On winning the Couture Council artistry of fashion award, Browne says, “It’s an honor that is humbling, seeing who has received it in the past. I only hope to be able to live up to the expectations that comes with its acceptance.” 

Back in 2001, the designer started his business with five men’s suits in a small by-appointment-only atelier in the Upper East Side. Now, along with his women’s collection—which launched in 2011—the brand is sold around the world in department and flagship stores, specialty boutiques and online.

The luncheon will feature flower designs by Bronson van Wyck of Van Wyck & Van Wyck and begin with cocktails following a three-course meal catered by Olivier Cheng. “My most important focus is to make sure there is enough alcohol for everyone at the bar,” jokes Julie Macklowe, president of the Couture Council. “It’s a whirlwind, for sure, on the amount of work that goes on behind-the-scenes.” Given her background in finance and fashion, Macklowe’s no newbie in negotiating numbers and locking down sponsors. “At the end of the day, it’s all about raising money for the Museum at FIT so it can stay open and be free for students and the public,” she says. “There are people who can’t afford to visit museums and I think the whole point of art and fashion is to make it accessible for everyone to see, learn and be inspired.”

Also in the planning process is the Couture Council’s Ambassadors program, which aims to build a broader network around the U.S. that will support the museum. Launching later this year—beginning in Houston and Los Angeles—the program will offer invitations to luncheons, dinners and cocktail parties to connect its members.

“The Couture Council began in 2004 as a much smaller group and became something quite significant,” notes Lightburn. “One of the biggest impressions I have of the organization was the luncheon in 2010, honoring Karl Lagerfeld—the room was packed and it was an incredible turnout.” The dedication of those involved since its early days include the president of FIT Dr. Joyce F. Brown, the museum’s director Dr. Valerie Steele, as well as past chairs Liz Peek and Yaz Hernández

While it’s no secret that many guests will be heading off to fashion week events throughout the city after the mid-day meal, there is one major void this year: Browne will be showing his womenswear collection in Paris instead, come October. 

If one thing’s for sure, Thom Browne excels at unpredictability. As for New York? Absence makes the heart grow fonder.


Pushing the Puffer

Moncler's new House of Genius is...genius!


A Recipe for Philanthropy

A delicious luncheon overlooking and benefitting Central Park

On The Avenue
On The Avenue

Cinema Society Goes Wilde-ing

A gay and vogueish night at the South Street Seaport

by Debbie BancroftPhotographed by Paul Bruinooge /PMc