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Words of Wisdom

Posted: June 8th, 2010 | By:

Photo by Patrick McMullan


Congratulations to our long timeĀ  friend Kim Hastreiter of Paper Magazine, who was the recipient of the Eugenia Sheppard award last night at the CFDA award ceremony. Here is a copy of her acceptance speech that had the fashion industry in tears.

Although I’m not the usual suspect for receiving a fashion award like this, I want to thank the CFDA for this honor and especially for recognizing that alternative thinking has value.

I’ve always been an outsider not only to the fashion industry, but in the other worlds I inhabit, from art to design to magazines. My passion is culture creation and this is what we do at PAPER, which we started 26 years ago at my kitchen table — and we’re still miraculously, “owner-operated” today.

My wonderful longtime partner David Hershkovits always says that we at PAPER live in a parallel universe…and so we create our own little utopian business where conforming to standard operating procedures is not required. We’ve always approached most of what we do sideways and from outside the box — with a collective team of unique, dedicated and loyal talents… like-minded people that share our love and enthusiasm for exploring, discovering, and documenting that exciting cultural universe that bubbles below the radar.

I share this award with team PAPER, but I’d also like to share it with other outsiders — independent thinkers who inspire me and are not the usual suspects either. Because they are the catalysts for breaking new ground in the inseparable culture of where design, art, fashion, and style come from, and come together.

From the pure American genius of the late Geoffrey Beene, Charles James and Claire McCardell to the greatest of American designers who, although not always hyped, will end up in the history books for sure like Isabel Toledo and Ted Muehling.

Like the tenacious “I do it my way” outsiders Norma Kamali, or the late Stephen Sprouse, shy fashion thinkers Martin Margiela and Rei Kawakubo or independents who avoid hype and consistently create original and great work like Maria Cornejo, Tess Giberson or Ohne Titel.

Then there are the radical wild children who tenaciously test the limits of fashion like threeASFOUR and Boudicca, or outrageous style mixmasters like Anna Piaggi or the late Isabella Blow. Even brilliant artists and cultural provocateurs like Banksy and Jeffrey Deitch or visionary communicators like Jean Paul Goude or the amazing Bill Cunningham.

Finally to all those who inadvertently give us style inspiration that is so often “Better than fashion.” Those outrageous manicure artists from Queens or the over-the-top hair performers from Detroit. The extraordinary House Ball competitors of Harlem, the clowny Krumpers or the tattooed Chollos of South Central LA.. Even the preppie wasps from Nantucket or the surf and skate kids from the OC.

I hope the fashion world continues to look beyond the usual suspects. Just because you’re cute, connected, rich, or famous, doesn’t necessarily mean you design great stuff. I also wouldn’t put too much stock into this “one day your in- the next day you’re out” business. How you can be a genius today but next year you’re not because you’re “off trend?”

That said, I may continue to be a slightly thorny guest in this industry, but I’ll always adore and celebrate great fashion and the tidal waves that precede and follow it, so thank you again for honoring me and inviting me to such a fun party.

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