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Versace’s New Face, The Met’s Longer Show, Cavalli at the Super Bowl

VERSACE’S NEW AMBASSADOR: Versace has tapped K-pop star Ningning as a global brand ambassador.

Ning Yizhuo, known as Ningning, 21, rose to fame in 2020 as part of the girl group Aespa of SM Entertainment.

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“Ningning is not only a brilliantly talented star, she is a wonderful person,” said Donatella Versace. “She has a strong, confident vision, incredible energy and talent and she looks amazing wearing our clothes. I am thrilled she is becoming part of our global Versace family.”

Ningning is the first Chinese singer to become part of a K-pop group. She has competed at “China’s Got Talent” (Series Two) and “Let’s Sing Kids” (Series Three).

The artist has been wearing Versace at recent events, including at the Cannes Film Festival last May, when she wore a black and white Atelier Versace gown. Last October, she wore a black Crystal Medusa ’95 minidress at the Versace Icons dinner in Shanghai. A month later, Ningning again was poured into a black figure-hugging Versace dress at the W Korea 18th “Love Your W” Breast Cancer Awareness charity event in Seoul.

“Versace has always been about pushing boundaries of creative expression and championing those who are confident to express themselves, especially in the music world,” said Ningning. “That is why being a Versace brand ambassador is so exciting for me. I feel a new strong attitude when I wear Versace and I’m excited to share it with everyone in the hope that they too feel confident to share their own strength and power.”

Other global brand ambassadors include Chris Lee, who fronts the Versace Icons campaign with Anne Hathaway; Hyunjin, appearing in the brand’s holiday 2023 campaign unveiled in November, and Rosy Zhao, who was named to the role in November. — LUISA ZARGANI

ON WITH THE SHOW: By extending the Costume Institute’s run of “Women Dressing Women,” the Metropolitan Museum of Art is serving up inclusivity in a few ways.

The fall exhibition at the Upper East Side museum will be on view for an additional week through March 10. The end date is two days after International Women’s Day and the start of The Met’s celebration of Women’s History Month.

Just as the show exhibits an assortment of inclusive designs for a variety of body types, as well as for the physically challenged there is also a range of work from designers of different heritages, including Ann Lowe, and Anifa Mvuemba, among others.

The female-centric show  feature 80 pieces from the museum’s permanent collection. Along with well-entrenched names in the fashion landscape, like Claire McCardell, Miuccia Prada, Madeleine Vionnet and Vivienne Westwood, less-heralded designers like Adèle Henriette Nigrin Fortuny, Isabel Toledo, Yeohlee Teng, Iris van Herpen, and No Sesso’s Pia Davis and Autumn Randolph are highlighted. Tory Burch,  Gabriela Hearst and Comme des Garçons Rei Kawakubo are reeling in some of their devoted followers up the museum’s Fifth Avenue steps, through its main entrance and into the Costume Institute.

Met Preview
From far right, designs by Marine Serre, Collina Strada’s Hillary Taymour, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Grace wales Bonner for Dior, Gabriela Hearst for Chloé, and Yeohlee Teng.

“Women Dressing Women” spotlights four areas — anonymity, visibility, agency and absence/omission — and how the industry has been a “powerful vehicle for women’s social, financial and creativity.” Museum patrons also learn about the identities, mentorships and other connections that tied some of these designers together. Nearly half of the 80 objects on view from 70-plus designers are being displayed for the first time.

To maximize the final stretch, museum goers have a few special programs to choose from at the Morgan Stanley-supported exhibition. On March 1, there will be the “Empowerment Through Practice in Fashion” panel discussion about accessibility, sustainability and the collective nature of design. Sinéad Burke, chief executive officer and founder of Tilting the Lens; Grace Jun, CEO and board member of Open Style Lab, and Amanda Lee, senior director of market access and sourcing for Nest, will share their insights.

Separately, families will be welcomed at a Sunday “Family Afternoon” event. “Women Dressing Women” co-curator and The Costume Institute’s associate curator Mellissa Huber will offer a behind-the-scenes look at highlights from the exhibition for visually impaired audiences through “Picture This!” on Feb. 15. Shelly Tarter, assistant collections manager, and Izabel Cockrum, a Virginia Barbato intern, will also be on hand. A “Met Expert Talk” with Huber is slated for Feb. 20. And as “Date Nights at The Met” continue, gallery chats about Lowe will be offered in gallery chats that also celebrate Black History Month. — ROSEMARY FEITELBERG

CAVALLI’S SUPER BOWL HELP: Roberto Cavalli is collaborating with the Las Vegas Fashion Council during the upcoming Big Game Weekend, running from Friday to Sunday around the Super Bowl.

The Italian brand will contribute 10 percent of sales from its boutique at Wynn Las Vegas through the weekend event to support the fashion industry. At the same time, it is setting up a couture suite for the occasion and contributing 10 percent of sales also from that venue.

Proceeds will be channeled into creating a grant to support a talented young designer.

“My creative journey has been deeply influenced by the dynamic energy of the United States, forever serving as a wellspring of inspiration for my designs,” said Fausto Puglisi, creative director of Roberto Cavalli, who joined the house in the fall of 2020. “The pulsating vibrancy of America has been pivotal in shaping my artistic vision. That’s why it’s so important for me to announce this partnership with the Las Vegas Fashion Council, as I’d love to offer, through this grant, the opportunity I had to emerging talents here in Vegas.”

The partnership will be unveiled during the Roberto Cavalli cocktail event and trunk show on Friday at Wynn Las Vegas, hosted by Puglisi and the brand’s executive team.

Over the years, Puglisi has dressed several artists in Roberto Cavalli at Super Bowl events, from Beyoncé and Ciara to Gwen Stefani and Mary J. Blige.

“This initiative aligns with the Las Vegas Fashion Council’s mission to encourage creativity and innovation in the fashion world, particularly by assisting young designers as they make their mark in the industry,” stated the company, committing to fostering growth and diversity in the fashion sector.

The Roberto Cavalli company is helmed by chief executive officer Sergio Azzolari, who previously held the same role at Dsquared2 and joined the brand in April last year. Entrepreneur Hussain Sajwani owns the brand through his private investment company Vision Investments, which bought the company from Clessidra SGR in 2019. — L.Z.

GOLDEN TIME: Sustainable jewelry brand Edge of Ember is on a collaboration roll.

The brand has collaborated with Charlotte Collins on a capsule of gold and silver pieces that feature black onyx and malachite stones ranging in price from 85 British pounds to 228 pounds.

“Jewelry is my armor — I wear eight or nine chunky rings every day and more often than not it’s my shorthand for making everything look a bit cooler, tougher and more glamorous,” said Collins, who designed the collection with Lynette Ong, founder of Edge of Ember.

“Many of my favorite pieces are inherited from my grandmother — one ‘70s malachite design in particular is always garnering attention, so it felt like the obvious starting point for the collection,” she added.

Charlotte Collins X Edge of Ember
Charlotte Collins x Edge of Ember

The two women aimed for the collection to be wearable and appropriate for the everyday with subtle hints to the cool era of the ‘70s.

“The chain and chunky gold pendant make me think of wafting in Etro caftans and silk turbans, even if I’m just layering them with jeans,” said Collins.

Edge of Ember came to international fame after Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, wore a piece from the brand on her final days in the U.K. before relocating abroad with her husband, Prince Harry, in 2020. — HIKMAT MOHAMMED

AWARDS NIGHT: Class is back in session for Raisefashion, which hosted a cocktail reception and panel discussion Tuesday evening at The Standard Highline to salute its incoming Masterclass.

Founded in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, the nonprofit aimed at advancing the equity of brands owned by Black, Indigenous and people of color will award 10 participants (up from last year’s eight) with $15,000 in seed money and provide mentorship from its network of volunteers. The 2024 inductees include Aisling Camps, Fe Noel, Charles Harbison, Tolu Coker, Almasika, K.ngsley, Cise, Advisry, Nalebe and Anima Iris.

To pass the test, each underwent a rigorous application process overseen by industry executives who took into account their product quality, market presence and potential for growth among other components. The eight-week course will run from March to July, culminating with a pitch session where two designers have the opportunity to receive an additional $15,000 grant.

Maya McHenry, Felita Harris
Maya McHenry and Felita Harris

“We have designers across every category from apparel to footwear and accessories, so we’re excited because they really deserve this opportunity to get the education, the financial resources and the added advisory support needed to really scale their businesses,” said Felita Harris, executive director for Raisefashion and one of its founding members.

During the event, Harris pointed out what Black, Indigenous and people of color designers need most is commitment from retailers, calling on them to “buy on a constant basis. In response, the Masterclass has been geared toward teaching, “not just what it takes to get into the retail distribution channel, but to stay in,” she added.

Among the retailers who showed their support on Tuesday were chief merchandising officers for Shopbop and Moda Operandi, Stephanie Roberson and April Hennig. Both contributed to the panel alongside Gabby Royal, associate vice president for the diversity and inclusion initiative at Victoria’s Secret, a cosponsor for the evening with H&M. “Hopefully some of the retailers that came tonight will go to the designers’ websites or even visit their showrooms during fashion week and explore their product.” said Harris.

Keith Herron, Stephanie Roberson, April Hennig, Gabby Royal
Keith Herron, Stephanie Roberson, April Hennig and Gabby Royal.

To replicate the success of last September’s Raisefashion pop-up store also hosted by The Standard, the event was held just before New York Fashion Week’s kick off on Friday, capitalizing on a moment when eyes are on New York talent, but editors, buyers, stylists and the like have yet to be tied up with appointments or bigger-ticket shows. “We always want to amplify our designers and allow their brands to be seen during times like this,” Harris explained, adding, “tonight is really about ensuring the industry knows they are here, that they’re visible.”

Aside from the exposure designers gain outside of Raisefashion, it’s the community they foster among their peers within the organization that can be the greatest comfort. So thought Amina Means, founder of women’s shoe brand Nalebe. “You basically are meeting your family,” she said, adding that after being rejected last year, she’s even more eager for programming to start.

Wilglory Tanjong, Jacques Agbobly
Wilglory Tanjong and Jacques Agbobly

Jacques Agbobly, a 2023 Masterclass member and the inaugural recipient of WWD’s One to Watch honor, was also on hand, quick to share how Raisefashion has been in lock-step with them since they joined. “I’m a very creative person, I grew up only in creative spaces, so the Masterclass was really a deep dive into the business side, which is a whole other game,” the Agbobly designer said. Although Agbobly came away with three mentors, they singled out Jonathan Simkhai for being especially helpful with merchandising for their collection.

When asked whether they had advice to give the incoming class, Agbobly offered, “don’t be afraid to ask questions. If there’s anything you’re unsure of, this is the perfect time to lay it all out on the table to really get feedback. Closed mouths don’t get fed.” — ARI STARK

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