On Thursday June 2, The National Arts Club Fashion Committee honored William Calvert of label Callula Lillibelle with the 2011 Innovator Award. Since 2006, the prize has recognized artists in the fashion industry who are intrepidly innovative with their designs. Winners of the award must display “a balance of courage, ambition, and the potential to become a legend in years to come,” says the committee. Past Innovator Award recipients have done so, most notably: duo Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos of Shipley & Halmos, and Bibhu Mohapatra.
A Baltimore-native, Calvert studied fashion design at Philadelphia University and l’Accademia Italiana della Moda in Florence, Italy. Upon graduating, he worked for legendary maisons Balenciaga, Balmain, and Rochas; refining his scrupulous craftsmanship and fanciful taste.
Afterwards, the designer joined the Diane von Furstenberg team, before launching a couture collection in 1998. For his independent work, Calvert received a Moët & Chandon Designer Debut award, as well as Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award.
In 2009, Calvert joined forces with Melanie Fraser Hart to establish Callula Lillibelle. “The collection incorporates the shifting needs and ever-fluctuating landscape of the modern woman’s lifestyle, diffusing Calvert’s tradition of couture into contemporary ‘desk to dinner’ silhouettes at an affordable price,” states the label. Collections from the line have earned write-ups in WWD, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, O the Oprah Magazine, Redbook, Essence, and Real Simple.
Guests ducked into the club’s ornate Gramercy Park edifice to congratulate the young talent and mingle; taking respite from the balmy weather with Voli Vodka cocktails, wines, and crudités.