Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art Celebrates Exhibition “Grit To Glamour” With A Star-Studded Gala With Event Chairs Derek Blasberg, Karlie Kloss, Tommy Hilfiger, Hank Willis Thomas, And Olivia Walton

Crystal Bridges And The Council Of Fashion Designers Of American Also Held First-Ever Fashion Symposium During The Day

Derek Blasberg, Karlie Kloss, Olivia Walton, Hank Willis Thomas, and Tommy Hilfiger at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s Grit to Glamour party

Event chairs Derek Blasberg, Karlie Kloss, Tommy Hilfiger, Hank Willis Thomas, and Olivia Walton with guests Seth Meyers and his wife, Barbara Bush, Christy Turlington, Arianna Huffington, Bronson Van Wyck, Kelly Rohrbach and Stuart Walton, Ruben Toledo, Steven Kolb, the Dillard Family, Lizzie Tisch, Jeremy O. Harris, the Tyson Family, Norman Lear, Aurora James, Tracy Reese, Stuart Vevers, Bethann Hardison, among many others.

Designers and VIPS came together to celebrate Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s Grit to Glamour exhibition focusing on American Fashion with a gala and fundraiser. Over 450 people attended the event and more than $2M was raised with a portion of the proceeds going to further arts education. Fashioning America: Grit to Glamour, the museum’s first-ever fashion exhibition opened on September 10.


About the Fashion Symposium held during the day:

During the day, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Council of Fashion Designers of America came together to host a Fashion Symposium celebrating the museum’s first-ever fashion exhibition: Fashioning America: Grit to Glamour. Top fashion insiders were brought together for a day of special conversations from Tommy Hilfiger, Tracy Reese, Aurora James, Bethann Hardison, Omar Salam, Fe Noel, Tania Flynn, Leslie Leonard, and more.

Guests and fashion industry professionals from across the nation came together for an extraordinary day of programming.

Panelists and speakers shared stories and offered insight on key industry issues such as sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Opening remarks were held by Olivia Walton, Crystal Bridges Board Chairwoman, and Steven Kolb, President, and CEO of the CFDA.

Stuart Vevers, Executive Creative Director of Coach, opened the Symposium events with a discussion on “Why American Fashion Matters”.

Vevers, who before 2013 held roles at Bottega Veneta, Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton, says he was drawn to American style, which made him want to work for Coach. “One of the things that most inspired me about joining Coach was to explore American style through the lens of an authentic American house.

What were those things I wanted to explore? It was something about the ease, a certain everydayness, a sense of reality that for really most of my career I wasn’t focused on. So, celebrating every day in a way, I think is something that is a part of what the American fashion legacy is”.

Tommy Hilfiger, Principal Designer of Tommy Hilfiger Global gave the closing talk on “The Future of Fashion: Using Technology to Enter the Fashion Metaverse”, where he discussed 3D design in fashion, the brand’s presence on Roblox with TOMMY PLAY, his relationship with NFTs, and more.

He speaks on taking his NFYW show phygital by bridging IRL and URL worlds with the brand’s signature ‘See Now, Buy Now’ concept. “We call it fashion-tainment,” says Hilfiger. “We like to stay a step ahead because we believe that the world is changing very rapidly and we want to be in tune with it, not behind it.”

The afternoon featured additional conversations held throughout the day with artists, designers, curators, and other industry professionals exploring the intersection of art, industry, and fashion. A full list of panelists and speakers held conversations and spoke on various topics, including the following:

  • Why American Fashion Matters – Coach Executive Creative Director, Stuart Vevers speaking to Vogue Runway Global Director Nicole Phelps
  • Sustainable Innovation and Inclusive Design – Hope for Flowers Founder & Creative Director Tracy Reese, Nike VP of Women’s Apparel Product Design Tania Flynn, and Brother Vellies Founder & Creative Director and Founder of the Fifteen Percent Pledge Aurora James moderated by CFDA VP of Sustainability Initiatives and Education Sara Kozlowski
  • Designers Hub, Support the next generation of Fashion Designers – Fashion advocate & luxury brand consultant Bethann Hardison, Sukeina Founder & Designer Omar Salam, and Fe Noel Founder & Designer Fe Noel
  • Fashioning America: From Grit to Glamour – Crystal Bridges exhibition curator Michelle Finamore discusses the theme, curation, representation of designers from diverse backgrounds, and celebration of American fashion design with guest exhibition designer Ruben Toledo
  • Walmart on the Democratizing of Fashion and Serving the Heartland – Walmart SVP of Mens/Kids/Baby/Footwear Merchant Group Leslie Leonard
  • The Future of Fashion, Using Technology to enter the Fashion, Metaverse – Tommy Hilfiger, Principal Designer, Tommy Hilfiger Global moderator by Maghan McDowell, Vogue Business Senior Innovation Editor

Those who weren’t able to make it in person can still watch the full programming from the Symposium on the Crystal Bridges website HERE or the CFDA YouTube channel HERE.

About Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. Since opening in 2011, the museum has welcomed six million visitors, with no cost for admission.

Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 as a non-profit charitable organization by arts patron and philanthropist, Alice Walton. The collection spans five centuries of American masterworks from early American to the current day and is enhanced by temporary exhibitions.

The museum is nestled on 120 acres of Ozark landscape and was designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A rare Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house was preserved and relocated to the museum grounds in 2015.

Crystal Bridges offers public programs including lectures, performances, classes, and teacher development opportunities. Some 300,000 schoolchildren have participated in the Willard and Pat Walker School Visit program, which provides educational experiences for school groups at no cost to the schools.

Additional museum amenities include a restaurant, gift store, library, and five miles of art and walking trails. In February 2020, the museum opened a satellite contemporary art space in downtown Bentonville called the Momentary (507 SE E Street).

For more information, visit The museum is located at 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, Arkansas 72712.

About Council of Fashion Designers of America

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc (CFDA) is a not-for-profit trade association founded by Eleanor Lambert in 1962. The CFDA has a membership of over 450 of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers.

Pillars include Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through the IMPACT initiative, as well as sustainability in Fashion. The organization provides its members with timely and relevant thought-leadership and business development support.

Emerging designers and students are supported through professional development programming and numerous grant and scholarship opportunities.

The CFDA Foundation, Inc. is a separate, not-for-profit organization to mobilize the membership to raise funds for charitable causes and engage in civic initiatives that will strengthen the impact of American fashion in the global economy.


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