The Intimate Apparel Square Club (IASC), the New York-based non-profit organization which is dedicated to raising funds for charities, held its annual H.U.G. Award Gala on November 2, 2011 at the trendy NYC event space, 230 Fifth Penthouse.
Ann Deal, founder and Chief Executive Officer of the leading intimate apparel and accessories company, Fashion Forms, was honored at this year’s gala for helping the IASC to “contribute to the triumph of the human spirit.” Sonja Morgan, star of BRAVO TV’s hit reality series “Real Housewives of NYC” was the celebrity emcee for the Intimate Affair. The IASC’s H.U.G. Award Gala is the organization’s annual fundraiser for pediatric services at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine.
The H.U.G. Award Gala is always a highlight during Intimate Apparel Market Week and this year’s Intimate Affair was no exception. The lively event was well attended by professionals in the intimate apparel industry and related fields and included the club’s officers, committee chairpersons and members who were all there to support “The Kids” at Rusk. IASC members maintain a personal connection to “The Kids” by holding special events at the Rusk Institute throughout the year including an Easter/Passover party, a Christmas/Hanukkah party in July and a Holiday party in December. At this year’s event, Dr. Steven Flanagan, Professor and Chair of Rehabilitation Medicine of NYU School of Medicine and Medical Director of Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine said, “The IASC has been exceptionally generous to Rusk over the years having donated millions of dollars to date. But it goes well beyond the financial support. The members of the club weave themselves into the fabric of the lives of the Rusk Kids. To the see the light in the eyes of the children is priceless. The children inspire us, but the club members do too!”
This year’s honoree, Ann Deal, is an extraordinary woman, yet she is extremely gracious and humble. She founded her own business, Freedom Forms, in Florida in 1987. In 1993, she moved the company to Ventura, California and renamed it Fashion Forms, relying on her dynamic personality, a good network of retailer friends, and one hot product – the Adhesive Body Bra – to make intimate apparel history. In less than 10 years, Fashion Forms became the nation’s leader in bra accessories, constantly introducing new and useful intimate apparel accessories like water push-up pads, shoulder cushions, adhesive bras and more. Fashion Forms became the exclusive U.S. distributor for patented products such as StrapMate® and Staykups™, Peel N’ Stick Cups™, NuBra®, and NuBra® Ultralite™. Ann expanded the company’s accessories business and revolutionized the bra market with the U.S. introduction of The Original Water Push Up Bra™ in 1997. Recognizing that women needed a “smarter” bra, Ann developed the Original Water Bra, introducing the world to one of the greatest non-surgical concepts in bust enhancement. Ann now owns more patented items than any other single entrepreneur in the intimate apparel industry. The company’s slogan is “Imagination is our Foundation.” The slogan underscores the Fashion Forms mission – to use creativity and innovation to deliver the newest and the best non-surgical, breast enhancing bras and bra accessories for special occasion fashions and everyday wear. Ann prides herself on empowering her employees to follow their intuition, rather than dictating their every move. She paves a path for success and inspires them to act on it. Ann is a real inspiration to entrepreneurs and to all women in the intimate apparel industry and beyond.
“Ann Deal is a highly respected, leading figure in the intimate apparel industry with countless innovations to her credit,” said IASC President Norma Reinhardt Mascarotti. “Fashion Forms is a loyal supporter of our work for pediatric programs at Rusk Institute and we are thrilled to have Ann as our H.U.G. honoree this year.”
At the event, Ann was introduced by three women who have known her intimately for quite some time including Valerie Koehler, Fashion Forms’ Vice President of Sales, Ann’s niece Allison Adams and Becky Harmon, Fashion Forms’ Director of Merchandising and Production. They had wonderful things to say about Ann as a woman, as an entrepreneur and businesswoman, and as a philanthropist. Of Ann, the three women made comments including “Ann is Fabulous,” “….relentless pursuit of perfection….,” “dedicated and driven,” “Ann has the gift of giving….she gives so much,” “she has touched so many of our lives,” and “Ann’s favorite song is ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ and that is how she lives life.”
Celebrity emcee Sonja Morgan stated, “Ann Deal invited me to emcee the event. How could I say no? She’s a dynamic woman, a real powerhouse. After all, she invented The Original Water Bra! We should all be grateful for that…. I know I am.” Sonja concluded, “We’re here to support Ann because she supports the children. I was touched because the event centers on children.”
In response to receiving this year’s H.U.G. Award, Ann said, “I felt incredibly overwhelmed and honored, humbled and speechless.” Fashion Forms has always been a big supporter of the IASC events and since Fashion Forms is a relatively small, privately-held company, Ann was able to get personally involved in gathering sponsors and raising money for the annual fundraiser. In the weeks leading up to the event, Ann personally raised close to $164,000.00 for the fundraiser via sponsorships, journal ads, ticket sales and other donations. In addition, Ann worked with Belly Bella of Beverly Hills to have a beautiful “La Bella Ce Soir Brassiere” 18K Rose Gold and Diamond necklace designed which was donated to the H.U.G. Award Gala event as a raffle prize.
Belly Bella, which is known for designing belly rings and other fine jewelry for their celebrity clientele, designed the necklace following the Fashion Forms brassiere logo. The necklace raised additional funds for IASC charities on the night of the gala event.
Ann is not only involved in raising funds for the IASC’s charities, but she is also actively involved in her community of Ventura, California and supports women’s causes and education among other things. On November 11th and 12th, Fashion Forms is sponsoring Women Today in Ventura, California. This event focuses on celebrating all aspects of a woman’s life. With exhibits, trendy fashion shows, special speakers and celebrity guests, there’s something for every woman at this event. Fashion Forms will be selling product during the event and a portion of the proceeds will go towards IASC’s charities. So, even after the gala event is over, Ann is still continuing to support IASC causes.
The “jet-setting” Ann Deal has no intention of slowing down her pace anytime soon. Fashion Forms is re-launching The Original Water Bra due to customer demand, the company’s new line of Annie Sports Bras will be in stores next month and the company is currently promoting their latest innovation, the Body Sculpting Backless Strapless Adhesive Bra which was featured in the November issue of InStyle magazine. This patented design is the only underwire strapless backless adhesive bra available in cup sizes A-DD.
As it turns out, the IASC’s H.U.G. Award is in my family! I made an unexpected discovery while researching this article. I came across the list of past H.U.G. honorees and realized that Joseph M. Rafferty was honored with the award in 1990. My sister Eileen married Joe’s son Rod Rafferty in 1986. The Rafferty’s have been an important part of my extended family since I was a little girl of about eight or nine years old. We’ve spent numerous holidays and other family celebrations together over the years and they have literally watched me grow up. Joe made his career as a buyer for JC Penney and retired in 1995 after serving the company for thirty-five years. Although Joe retired before I began my career in the intimate apparel industry, we talk about business and retail at most family functions. Of course, it never came up that he had been a H.U.G. award honoree! I now feel an even stronger personal obligation to commit myself to support the Intimate Apparel Square Club and its important work in raising funds for “The Kids” at Rusk.
About The H.U.G. Award
The Intimate Apparel Square Club’s annual fundraiser was renamed the H.U.G. (Help Us Give) Award in 1998 and is presented to well-respected, high-profile companies, organizations and individuals at the IASC’s annual gala fundraiser in support of pediatric rehabilitation. The IASC was founded in1955 with the mission of uniting professionals in intimate apparel and related industries as a charitable organization and to participate in activities that will reflect positively on the membership and the industry at large. The membership includes management executives, designers and salespeople, among other professionals. Initially focused on charities for the blind and the elderly, the IASC broadened its scope over the years and today supports a variety of charitable organizations, with pediatric rehabilitation and treatment at Rusk and other programs at NYU Langone Medical Center being the primary beneficiary of its fundraising activities.
Intimate Apparel Square Club and the H.U.G. Award
NYU Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine
Ann Deal and Fashion Forms