2011 May 12

Haute Horizon at Cipriani Wall Street

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Steve Hootkin, Julie Hootkin and Pamela N. Hootkin Steve Hootkin, Julie Hootkin and Pamela N. Hootkin
Billy Farrell Agency
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(NEW YORK) Bidding wars over a plum view of winged Victoria's Secret babes! An assortment of frank, funny and heartfelt speakers sharing stories from those doing the tough work and those touched enough to get involved with Safe Horizon, a non-profit which provides housing, legal and medical resources to families contending with domestic abuse. Add the evening's host, Stephanie March clad in an asymmetrical white Calvin Klein ensemble, to the mix, and the horizons looked bright and optimistic indeed at last evening's 16th annual Safe Horizon Champion Awards at Cipriani Wall Street.

This year's honorees for the "Voices of Courage and Compassion" Champion Awards were Elie Tahari, Suri Kasirer of Kasirer Consulting and Pamela N. Hootkin, senior vice president, treasurer and investor relations of Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation, underwriters of the event. Ntozake Shange, poet and author of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, was honorary chair of the event. Attendees from table to table including Liz Lange, Tom Colicchio, model and actress Emme, a healthy dosage of Broadway stars and a long list of Law and Order actors were touched by speeches from a series of speakers creating "safe horizons" in the trenches, including detective Lenny Esposito and Safe Horizon president Ariel Zwang.

A lively bidding war ensued over a handful of plum prizes being auctioned live (among dozens more for offer via silent auction) as guests feasted on plump filet mignon, red snapper, tender asparagus and creamy disks of polenta. Prizes auctioned in real time included tony tickets to the Grammys and the U.S. Open, the latter of which Tahari raised his hand to bid on a few times. There was even a future role in an upcoming novel by mystery writer Linda Fairstein up for grabs. But tickets to the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and beautiful people-sprinkled afterparty seemed to elicit the most fervent interest, and well-coiffed heads whipped left and right as two bidders on opposite ends ping-ponged escalating price tags on the glam prize. Somewhere past the $50,000 mark, the ante was generously upped to two pairs of tickets by Victoria's Secret and each set was sold for $63,000. Lest anyone underestimate the power of million-dollar diamond bras, hundreds of pounds of glitter and a slew of supes in their skivvies—those wings have never been harnessed for a better cause!

Nothing makes for a better program of speakers than a colorful rapport between presenter and honoree. Case in point: Tahari being presented with his award by Christine Quinn, New York City Council speaker, who praised the designer for overcoming his own tumultuous path to success on the streets of New York, including "sleeping on park benches" during rough patches. "Through his own fortitude and focus, Elie has created an amazing company that puts New Yorkers to work, and supports this city. At times when this city has needed Elie, he has never forgotten this city," Quinn explained, citing Tahari's commitment to Gotham post-9/11. " He made sure a 'Made in New York' message went the world that this city was recovering and would never be put down." 

Tahari outfitted speaker Quinn for the occasion, a fact that definitely did not go unmentioned. "There are some great designers out there, but there are none as nice as Mr. Tahari, and definitely none that could make an outfit as nice as the one I'm wearing," Quinn said as she paused, stepped back from the podium, and twirled for the audience. "Thank you, Speaker Quinn. You are a great speaker - and a great dresser, too!" exclaimed Tahari as he took the stage to accept his honors, highlighting the Emmy bag designed in collaboration with Emmy Rossum to benefit Safe Horizon. Sometimes camraderie is all in the details: Halfway through Tahari's heartfelt speech, Quinn dashed back on stage to fix the designer's jacket as it slouched off his shoulder due to a broken arm swathed in a sling. 

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