Celebrity-designer-mom Jessica Simpson let it all hang out at Tuesday evening’s record-breaking YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund/Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Awards dinner.
Simpson, who was honored along with Macy’s chief merchandising officer Tim Baxter and Peerless Clothing president Ronny Wurtzburger, appeared in a tight black dress that showed off her curves. After 200 student scholarships were distributed, Simpson received YMA’s “future of fashion” award and seized the moment to suggest her next brand extension beyond the three dozen or so categories she’s already in. “I need lip gloss. That’s my next adventure. Macy’s — will you sell it?”
Simpson bypassed much of the teleprompter script, admitting “I feel awkward talking about myself in the third person. I can’t read all of these things. This is weird.”
The most emotional moment came after Louise Camuto, widow of Vince Camuto, presented her award, and Simpson welled up with tears, remembering her former business partner and mentor from when her collection launched its first category — footwear — in 2005. In April, Sequential Brands Group purchased a majority stake in the Simpson brand. “We miss him dearly,” Simpson said. “Vince really knew how to make a shoe.”
“Really, I don’t feel that fashionable,” Simpson said, getting personal. “Everyone in this room makes me feel accepted.” As far as maintaining her $1 billion power lifestyle brand status, Simpson said, “I try. Maybe I don’t try. I try.” She added that she spends too much to not be successful.
Her advice to the students: “You guys are our future and I can’t tell you how to do it. Just believe you can. Understand yourself through fashion. Own yourself. People like crazy.”
With a trio of fashion stars receiving the YMA awards, the evening drew a record 1,611 guests and generated $4 million to support YMA’s student program, beating the old benchmark of $3.7 million. The program provides scholarships, internships, alumni programming and mentoring opportunities.