On Monday, November 13, 2017, the Plaza Hotel opened its doors to the arts. An evening of culture, curation, and creativity announced the annual FIAF: Trophée des Arts Gala. The French Institute Alliance Franҫaise educate, explore, and elevate the pinnacle of French and Francophone cultures through cross-cultural exchange between France and the United States. The Trophée des Arts honors a distinguished artist or cultural icon, while the Pilier d’Or recognizes a leading business figure. This year’s honorees included CEO and President of Christian Dior Couture Sidney Toledano and Peter Marino, fashion’s most celebrated and sought-after architect.

The evening began with a toast to the celebratory night, where fashion and the art’s elites mixed and mingled amongst familiar faces, colleagues, business associates, and new acquaintances at a cocktail reception. Notable guests in attendance included Maria Grazia Chiuri, Artistic Director of Dior; Martine Assouline, Co-Founder Assouline Publishing; Patrick Demarchelier, Fashion Photographer, Miles Socha, Editor in Chief of WWD; and Michel Clinton, President, Marketing & Publishing Director of Hearst Magazines just a few of the prestigious names that filled the room. All in all, the night belonged to two, Sidney Toledano and Peter Marino for their contributions to the arts, visionary genius, and an aptitude for dedication and determination within the creative industries.

It was an emotional acceptance as Dior’s Chief Operating Officer and President Sidney Toledano received the Pilier d’Or, who last week announced his resignation from his position at Dior. Toledano will be passing the baton to his successor Fendi’s Pietro Beccari. This news coming as Dior celebrates its 70th anniversary with a retrospective at the Musée des Art Décoratifs in Paris, France. Toledano promoted his speech by saying, “Dior has been a fantastic journey and a lot of passion.” Joining the House of Dior in 1994 as Director of Leather Goods Toledano has created the “Lady Dior handbag,” later promoted to Managing Director of International Development in 1996, and lastly, appointment as President and Chief Executive of Christian Dior Couture in 1998.

Toledano has appointed John Galliano, Raf Simon, and Dior’s first female artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri. A visionary leader, he has guided the House of Dior for over two decades, perpetuating the “savoir-faire of the past” to reinvent modernity for today.  Toledano will now assume the role of Chairman and CEO of LVMH Fashion Group, as an adviser to brands including Céline, Givenchy, Loewe, Marc Jacobs, and Louis Vuitton. As Toledano concluded his speech, he thanked FIAF for their recognition of his work and achievement, but also mentioned his longtime friendship with Trophée des Arts honoree Peter Marino. The dynamic duo has worked together for over two decades, and Toledano said it’s the same Peter he’s always known.

Peter Marino has revamped several luxury fashion stores through the inventive use of light, space and contemporary artwork, some of his notable clients include Armani, Barney’s New York, Calvin Klein, Chanel Avenue Montaigne, Dior Place Vendôme, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton Hong Kong. In his sentimental acceptance speech, Marino became overwhelmed with emotion as he thanked FIAF’s efforts in educating public schools within the arts and French culture.  Marino, a graduate of Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning in 1971 admitted, “I’ve benefited enormously from an arts education and a music education in New York. When they cut the programs for funding, I was devastated.” There was not a dry eye within the audience as Marino tearfully accepted his prestigious honor to an applause that filled the room of creatives, connoisseurs, and contributors within the arts.

The heartfelt evening concluded with a scrumptious three-course meal and an auction of ten noteworthy items. All proceeds go to the organization’s outreach towards in-school arts and culture education programs. FIAF President Marie Monique Steckel quoted the late, great Christian Dior by saying, “Whatever you do – whether for work or pleasure – do it with passion.” With that, the night ended on a passionate note filled with victories, visionaries, and vocation through culture and fashion.

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