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A Cut Above The Rest

A Cut Above The RestTufts graduate takes top honors at 2001 American Fashion Awards for his designs for Coach Leather. New York.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [07.09.01] When Reed Krakoff was named creative director at Coach Leather in 1998, he was tapped to invigorate the company's image and product lines by bringing a fresh perspective to its handbags and accessories. A couple years later, Krakoff's work has not only helped Coach reinvent itself, but has also earned him one of Fashion's top honors -- Accessory Designer of the Year.

Krakoff -- a 1986 Tufts graduate -- beat out designers Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors for the top spot in his field during the 2001 American Fashion Awards last month. The world's top designers, and many of the stars who wear their creations, were on hand to honor the industry's best during the awards, often billed as the Oscars for the fashion industry.

"Some of the evenings best moments came when there was real emotion displayed by the winners," reported Look Online, a leading fashion news website, referring to Krakoff's acceptance speech.

"Krakoff has a huge personal cheering section who offered encouragement to the winner as he thanked his mother and father who were in the audience," reported the website.

The award was the culmination of a lot of hard work and a few risks for the designer, who is now the company's president and executive creative director.

In need of a new look and more sales, the Washington Post reported that Coach wanted the designer to "keep Coach relevant when fashion's handbag feeding frenzy was just beginning."

Krakoff took a risk, adding new styles and materials to Coach's collection -- which had a long-standing reputation for consistent, quality design.

"We had never made a bag out of anything other than our basic leather," Krakoff told the newspaper, adding that Coach began delivering new bags to stores monthly instead of just a few times a year.

The Post's fashion editors rank the new changes as a success.

"The admirable accomplishment is that even as Krakoff added new styles, tweaked old ones and kept a few classics, even as the company began to design watches, shoes, dog accessories and furniture, all of the products looked like Coach," the Post reported.

His colleagues in the fashion industry agreed, naming the Tufts graduate as the top designer in his field.

For Krakoff, the award was particularly meaningful. "I've dreamed of this moment for a long time," he told the award show's audience.

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