Hamish Bowles and Diane von Furstenberg at last night’s Pratt Institute Fashion Show in Manhattan. (Photos: UnBeige)
We’ve had the pleasure of hearing Hamish Bowles, Vogue‘s European Editor at Large, enrapture a crowd with his knowledge of fashion history, of taking in his most recent curatorial triumph (“Balenciaga: Spanish Master,” now on view at the de Young Museum in San Francisco as “Balenciaga and Spain”), and of reading his books and articles, including those delightful fish-out-of-water pieces for Vogue that see the dapper Brit take on everything from pro basketball and surfing to Outward Bound-style adventures and “urban foraging.” But who knew he could sing? Bowles’ apparently boundless talents were highlighted last night as Pratt Institute honored him with its Fashion Icon award at its annual fashion show.
A video montage featured Bowles capably crooning a Cole Porter tune and shooting hoops with New York Knicks power forward Amar’e Stoudemire amidst tributes from the likes of Anna Wintour, Harold Koda, and Grace Coddington. According to Diane von Furstenberg, who presented Bowles with the award, he can also dance and draw. “He’s a true Renaissance man,” she told the crowd. “And because he can do anything, Anna asks him to everything.” Von Furstenberg, who received the inaugural Fashion Icon award in 2006, went on to compare Bowles to a sponge. “He takes it all in and then he knows how to bring it out,” she said, before closing with a push for Bowles to try his hand at one more thing. “I hope, Hamish, that one day you will dare to be a designer.”
Bowles accepted the award graciously, crediting his mother and father for encouraging his early interests in art and design. “I’m not sure every parent would indulge their ten-year-old child’s Christmas wish list request for a subscription to Vogue,” he said. Another critical influence was his education at Central Saint Martins, where he learned as much from fellow students as he did in the classroom—all while assembling legendary nightclub ensembles. Bowles praised Pratt for its own commitment to providing students with exposure to a variety of creative fields, whether they’re majoring in fashion design or film production. He ended by thanking Wintour, seated in the front row and with sunglasses at the ready for the imminent runway show, for a job that is in turns thrilling, challenging, terrifying, and fulfilling. “Thank you, Anna, for the gift that keeps on giving.”