New York, NY (September 21, 2023) – Fashion 4 Development (F4D) hosted its 11th Annual First Ladies Luncheon on Tuesday, September 19th during the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Evie Evangelou, F4D President and Founder co-hosted with Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, who was announced as F4D’s Goodwill Ambassador for Music. This year’s luncheon honored the late Queen Elizabeth II in partnership with the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. The annual luncheon is an opportunity for First Ladies and Royals from around the globe, as well as diplomats, philanthropists, fashion VIPs, and other key influencers to celebrate the unprecedented cooperation between diplomacy and fashion.
The First Ladies Luncheon began with green carpet arrivals and a cocktail reception where guests had a chance to network and mingle. Exhibitions from couture fashion designer Stewart Parvin and milliner Rachel Trevor-Morgan created exclusively as a tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II were showcased during the reception. Parvin worked with the Queen for 20 years and his designs adorning the room were inspired by what she would have worn during her reign. Recipient of this year’s 2023 Franca Sozzani Award, Thebe Magugu, also showcased his latest designs.
Over 32 first ladies were in attendance including First Lady of Paraguay, First Lady of Serbia, First Lady of Albania, Princess of Eswatini, First Lady of Ecuador, First Lady of Malta, First Lady of Cabo Verde, First Lady of Israel, First Lady of Colombia and more. Additional notable attendees and honorees included Fern Mallis, Flaviana Matata, June Ambrose, Chaz Dean, Julia Haart, Preeta Sinha, Jennifer Hanks Allaire, Dr. Inez Hernandez, Aneeta Williams, Bonnie Lautenberg, Monica Elias, Sergio Nicolosi, Amy Shiels, Laine Siklos, Janna Bullock and Sofie Mahlkvist.
When everyone was seated, Evangelou welcomed all guests and introduced the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange Video showcasing an initiative that launched in Buckingham Palace and then graced the F4D Global Runway in New York City.
Following this, Evangelou introduced Queen’s Commonwealth Trust representative and young entrepreneur from Zambia Alina Karimamussama to speak about her experience advocating for the global work of F4D and honoring the global initiatives of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. “I’m here alone on this stage, but when you see me, I want you to see all the communities that are represented by the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust,” Karimamussama said to the crowd. “I want you to see the thousands of women in Zambia who do not have the comforts or luxuries to be on the stage with me today.” The Queen’s Tribute also spotlighted special guests Freddie Toye of Toye, Kenning and Spencer and Kate McGuire, British refashion designer who has dressed Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex in the City. Onstage they presented the Royal Silk Robe and Gown. The gown was made from recycled fabrics from fast fashion lines and was presented to guests at the Met Gala this past spring. “I wanted to prove a point,” McGuire explained. “We wanted to show people it’s possible to make couture out of old clothes, even fast fashion…We are calling her “Elizabeth” and every year from now on, she will attend Fashion 4 Development’s First Ladies Luncheon and illustrate the different potentials of upcycling.”
Internationally renowned Chef Anton Mosimann, OBE, of Mosimann’s private members’ club in London, known for his exceptional Cuisine Naturelle attended via video from London. Having cooked for four generations at the Royal House, guests were treated to his signature dessert, Bread and Butter pudding, one of the Queen’s favorites and a special Queen’s tribute menu was served to guests. The tables featured couture hat centerpieces by Suzanne Couture Millinery and a coffee table book of famed photographer Enzo Barracco, and as a special treat, guests were provided with the recipes for the desserts served that afternoon.
The annual luncheon is also dedicated to honoring those who celebrate the unprecedented cooperation between diplomacy and fashion around the world. Honorees included 2023 Franca Sozzani Award winner, Johannesburg-based designer Thebe Magugu. Sara Sozzani Maino introduced Magugu, honoring him for preserving his South African heritage through fashion and design. He stated, “When I started my brand in 2016, its mission was to act like an encyclopedia or a reference book of key ideas, people, cultures that run the risk of being forgotten. I’m a firm advocate in transcribing culture for modern generations, otherwise, those histories or ideas, will meet a dead end. I think that’s what makes fashion so incredibly important. It can inspire. It can inform. It can transform.”
Halfway through the luncheon, Emanne Beasha, a finalist on season 14 of America’s Got Talent came on stage to perform one of her signature songs,” Quello Che Faro.” She was introduced by Princess Corinna, saying “Music, as we all know, is a universal language that transcends all frontiers. It has the power to uplift spirits, connect us across cultures, and inspire positive change.”
Assembly member Rebecca Seawright introduced philanthropist Jean Shafiroff and presented her with the 2023 Philanthropy Award. “We must work together,” Shafiroff said. “Not just in our countries, not just locally, but globally, because sustainability is a global issue. It’s important for all of us to be involved.” She continued, “We want future generations to have the opportunity to live in a good world, it’s our obligation to work on a sustainable future by creating long and short-term goals, incentives and rewards, and a sense of team work together, this is all achievable and doable.”
Stefano Curti welcomed Carolin Westermann to the stage to accept the 2023 F4D Award on behalf of CEO of Hugo Boss, Daniel Grieder. Virtually, Grieder addressed the guests, stating “I believe that it is our responsibility as an industry to take care of our planet, the people that live in it and our environment. If current global trends continue without change, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. So, we must be bold for our planet because, as I like to say, no planet, no fashion.”
Evangelou and Stephanie Dillon also presented the launch of “Global Runway”, a book they are co-authoring of storytelling, art and photography that will showcase fashion designers from 193 countries, whom are part of the UN helping to promote international cooperation and understanding. Guests went home with a physical copy of the first chapter, which spotlights Magugu. “Thebe, for me, is our poster designer. He is what epitomizes what we would like designers to be for the new way of moving forward in the fashion industry,” Evangelou said. In addition, “Global Runway” will premiere a fashion runway show at the United Nations in 2024.
Following the global runway video, guests enjoyed a live fashion show paying homage to the past and future of F4D. “Inspirations of the Ottoman Empire” by designer Mirela Nurce of Tonni86 Couture.
Speakers throughout the afternoon included remarks by Naila Chowdhury, the Director of Social Impact and Innovation at UC San Diego, who was just announced as F4D’s Goodwill Ambassador. As an advocate for human rights, she said, “We are at the critical juncture where climate, sustainability, gender equity, human rights, dignity, and zero tolerance of any form of violence has become imperative to address.”
To conclude, Stephanie Potter presented President of S&P Global Market Intelligence Martina Cheung with the 2023 Women’s Empowerment Award for her work with improving pay transparency and female empowerment. “Increasing female labor force participation and getting more women into gender equity roles, increased pay transparency, all of this contributes, and can contribute, trillions of dollars to economic growth over the next decade,” said Cheung.
An exclusive t-shirt collaboration designed by renowned artist Stephanie Dillion and fashion industry veteran, Aslaug Magnusdottir, Founder of Katla, officially launched at the luncheon to help support F4D’s mission. The t-shirt serves as a visual representation of the strength that arises when artists and advocates unite for a common cause. T-shirts can be purchased at www. Katla.com.
F4D Awards created exclusively by Toye, Kenning & Spencer, founded in 1685 and with a Royal Warrant of Appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Toye, Kenning & Spencer is the leading and most diversified craft skills employer in the United Kingdom. To learn more about F4D, please visit: http://www.fashion4development.com
About Fashion 4 Development
Fashion 4 Development (F4D) is a private sector global platform founded by Evie Evangelou in January 2011 in cooperation with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to support the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and “Every Woman, Every Child”. F4D builds upon the core leadership principles of the 4E’s: Educate, Empower, Enhance, and Enrich, and activates partnerships that promote the Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Industries, advance economic and social development activities, preserve culture and empower women. In 2015 F4D committed to support the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and place a significant focus on sustainable lifestyle practices for a healthier world. Fashion 4 Development’s tagline – “Giving Back is the New Luxury” – and its message to promote positive social change are being received with open arms around the world, with initiatives in over 20 countries.