Fashion Legend Bethann Hardison Was Honored At The 75th Annual Parsons Benefit

Roy Rochlin

Last night, well-dressed guests from celebrities, fashion icons, and Parsons students trekked to Cipriani Wall Street to attend the 75th annual Parsons Benefit. During the benefit, honorees were announced throughout the evening. The first prestigious award went to the iconic model, trailblazer, and industry-changing agency founder Bethann Hardison. Actors Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker presented Hardison with a Parsons Table Award, recognizing her work to diversify representation in the fashion industry.

The 75th Annual Parsons Benefit Honored Trailblazer Bethann Hardison
Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The New School

“Though I never attended Parsons School of Design academically, I have had Parsons as an added backdrop in my growth and discovery. Delighted to be honored and recognized, as it’s a full circle experience,” Hardison shared. The changemaker received a standing ovation as she walked onto the stage gracefully, in a black and white gown, to accept her award. “It’s very difficult to listen to all that you have achieved when you aren’t trying to achieve it. When you just see what’s right to be done and what’s necessary, you do it with grace, and you try to educate those you feel are going down a rabbit hole. That’s what I’ve felt I’ve done over these many years,” Hardison added while on stage. She ended with a request that the audience watch her new film Invisible Beauty on Hulu. It showcases her journey from modeling to being an agent and activist in the fashion industry.

The 75th Annual Parsons Benefit Honored Trailblazer Bethann Hardison
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for The New School

Other fashion visionaries honored for the night were designer, founder, and chief creative officer of his eponymous brand, Thom Browne, and the CEO of J.Crew Group, Libby Wadle. Both received a Parsons Table award and gave speeches touching on the future of fashion and how these students would benefit from the night’s raised funds. 

“It’s an honor to be nominated for the Parsons Table Award. Parsons represents the future and the truly individual talent that exists in the world. It’s a privilege to be able to see first-hand the unique stories people are creating on their own terms,” said Browne. “I’m excited for what the future of the creative industry has to offer, and to share my stories with the next generation to interpret for themselves and create the next chapter,” he added. 

The 75th Annual Parsons Benefit Honored Trailblazer Bethann Hardison
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for The New School

Between each presentation of an award, entertainment ensued to keep the attendees engaged. The New School’s College of Performing Arts String Quartet and Gospel Choir shared compelling performances. Wes Gordon, creative director of Carolina Herrera, Liz Rodbell, president and CEO of Hudson’s Bay, and Gena Smith, chief human resources officer for LVMH Inc., served as the Parsons Benefit co-chairs for the evening.

A runway show was organized for the night consisting of Parsons graduates’ work, giving many onlookers a sense of awe and hope for the future of fashion. Vibrant prints, bold colors, and Avant-garde silhouettes hit the runway.

Donations were made throughout the night with an auctioneer announcing over $40,000 was already raised within a few minutes of beginning and more was added throughout the night as guests were able to send amounts through a tablet on the dinner tables. 

Looking over at the illustrious guests and honorees seated next to current students and alumni made the night even more special as the school’s attempt to connect students to other trailblazers ensures their futures are bright. The night came to a close with many attendees still talking amongst each other and connecting with students and alumni to see what the future holds for them. 

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