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Elie Tahari Gives Back

Philanthropy has remained a constant in the 40 years the designer has spent building his company.

Elie Tahari Emmy Rossum Emmy Bag

Emmy Rossum with the Emmy Bag, 2011.

Photo By Courtesy Photo

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Milestones issue 09/10/2013

Philanthropy has remained a constant in the 40 years Elie Tahari has spent building his company.

As part of the events marking his four decades in fashion, the designer revealed last Wednesday — which New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg deemed “Elie Tahari Day” — two charitable initiatives, including his plans to donate proceeds from a dress designed by “Project Runway All Stars” designer Anthony Ryan Auld and sold in Tahari stores to Save the Garment Center.

In addition, Tahari created a capsule collection of updated signature looks that is being billed as “Elie Tahari Edition 1974” and will be shown during his spring presentation today. The tube top, jumpsuit, an updated power suit, tuxedo and signature leather pieces will be sold in Elie Tahari boutiques and wholesale partners worldwide in the spring. A portion of the proceeds from sales of this collection will be donated to charity.

During an interview last month, Tahari spoke at length about the need for all people to help each other for the greater good of society.

“We need to help planet Earth and provide help to all of us,” he said. “The biggest way we can do that is to change our consciousness. It’s not about what you give, but the degree of consciousness that you give to a situation.”

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Having studied at The Kabbalah Centre New York, Tahari said sometimes people need to be reminded that their own interests should not always come first. “Most people tend to think, ‘What will I get out of it? What’s in it for me?’” he said.

Before relocating to New York in his 20s, the designer spent his early years in an Israeli orphanage. Once he got rolling professionally, Tahari maintained his philanthropic ways. “Whether you give money or advice, that’s not enough. What we have to do is bring attention to all the charities,” he said. “I am starting with myself — with my family and my company.”

And in recent years Tahari repeatedly has done just that. As a guest judge on “Project Runway All Stars,” the designer welcomed contestants to his design studio and allowed them to use fabrics from his archives. Their task was to create a dress inspired by the Elie Tahari collection, and the winning designs were sold in Elie Tahari stores as well as through the company’s Web site. The project raised more than $32,000 in sales, with all proceeds benefiting the Save the Garment Center initiative.

Among his other endeavors and awards:

• For three years from 2009 to 2012, the designer sponsored the Winter Antiques Show, which supports the East Side House. That group serves 8,000 people in the South Bronx and in surrounding communities to help them improve their lives through education.

• Last year, the Worldwide Orphans Foundation honored Tahari at its annual gala for overcoming hardship in his early life and going on to achieve success.

• In 2011, Tahari designed the limited-edition T-shirt that Jennifer Hudson modeled in Saks Fifth Avenue’s Key to the Cure initiative. His input helped to generate $593,000 sales of the shirt, which in turn was donated to the EIF Women’s Cancer Research Fund. The charity benefits more than 50 programs that seek new detection methods, better treatments and potential cures for various women’s cancers.

• Also in 2011, Tahari teamed with actress Emmy Rossum to create the Emmy bag, a handbag that was sold in four styles in Elie Tahari Collection stores, as well as Bloomingdale’s, Saks and Neiman Marcus. All proceeds were directed to Safe Horizon, an organization that annually helps more than 250,000 children and adults who are impacted by crime and abuse.

• In efforts to help emerging designers, Tahari started a partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2010 to promote select member jewelry designers by selling their wares in his East Hampton, N.Y., store on a three-week rotation. Tahari participated in the program for two consecutive years.

• In 2008, Tahari partnered with artist Kenny Scharf to create a limited-edition collection that included a Kenny Scharf surfboard. A portion of the proceeds were donated to God’s Love We Deliver.