The Fashion Institute of Technology is honoring a new batch of visionaries, including Serena Williams and “The Equalizer” producer Debra Martin Chase, for its 2022 Annual Awards Gala.
Honorees will be celebrated at the black-tie gala that raises money to nurture the next generation of the institute, which has seen the success of notable alumni such as Michael Kors, Stephen Burrows, and Calvin Klein.
Kors alongside fellow alumnus and Elle magazine editor-in-chief Nina Garcia will host honorees that include Williams, Chase, Harlem’s Fashion Row CEO Brandice Daniel and Estée Lauder style and image director and Aerin founder Aerin Lauder.
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“My FIT education thoroughly prepared me for a rewarding career in the fashion industry. I know it can do the same for so many other students who will become future leaders of this industry,” Daniel said in a statement to USA TODAY.
The gala will take place on April 13 in New York City.
Williams, who is known for dominating on the tennis court, has also made a mark in fashion. In 2018 while competing in the French Open she announced the arrival of her S by Serena fashion line, which features modern business casual pieces with a focus on being “approachable and inclusive,” and she recently announced her jewelry line, Serena Williams Jewelry, available exclusively at Zales.
She doesn’t leave her 4-year-old daughter Alexis (known by her middle name Olympia), who Williams shares with her husband Alexis Ohanian, out of the fashion loop.
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The two are often seen on Williams’ Instagram posing in matching outfits, whether it be leotards similar to the one the athlete wore to the clay courts of the 2018 French Open, cheetah print silk pajamas or rhinestone-studded outfits fit for the “King Richard ” red carpet premiere — Williams makes sure her mini-me has a match.
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The mother-daughter duo also starred in Stuart Weitzman’s 2021 spring “Footsteps to Follow” campaign in March.
“She inspires every step I take and I hope I inspire her, too. Because while I try to teach her how to be a positive influence, she in fact teaches me how to be a stronger person every day. It’s the best part about being a mom,” Williams wrote on Instagram.
While Williams is inspired by her young daughter, her fellow FIT honorees are inspiring on their own. Chase’s TV work for special productions, including “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” have earned the producer two Emmy nominations. Daniel is actively inspiring the next generation of fashion with her nonprofit ICON360, which funds up-and-coming designers of color. Lauder has inspired decades of beauty, pushing new frontiers, since joining Estée Lauder in 1992.