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Kay Unger

Founder, Kay Unger Design LLC.

Kay Unger is a fashion designer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist based in New York City. For more than forty years, her flattering, feminine looks have made her one of Americas most popular designers for First Ladies, anchorwomen, businesswomen, party-goers, and bridal parties.

Unger entered the fashion world in 1968 as a design assistant to Geoffrey Beene. Two years later, at the age of twenty-five, she founded dress business Kay Ungerthe first of several successful global fashion design companies she would helm over the years, including The Gillian Group, Kay Unger New York, KJs Pajamas, and Phoebe Couture. A powerful business leader for decades, she is a key Board Member of the Parsons Board of Governors.

The Kay Unger and Phoebe Couture brands are sold in thousands of stores in 24 countries, with four freestanding stores in China, and two in Seoul, Korea. Thanks to her massively successful line of special occasion wear, generations of American women identify Unger with the most important moments in their livesengagements, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, proms, christenings, and birthdays.

Unger has served as President of Fashion Group International (FGI), a group of 6,000 women around the world. In 1982, she was a founding member of the Committee of 200, an organization that advances womens leadership in business. She has been a member of the CFDA (which featured her apartment in its book American Fashion Designers At Home), a member of the Womens Forum, a board member of the Womens Campaign Forum, the first woman on the Boys and Girls Club of Americas Board of Directors, a trustee of the New School, a board member of Jeanne Kaye League of the City of Hope, and an advisory board member of Cayetano Legacy Collection. She helped launch the first Seventh on Sale Event put on by Vogue and the CFDA, which was attended by Princess Diana. She is also on the board on GoGoGalosh and Posh Galosh.

She has dressed Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, and the cast of shows like The Good Wife and Gossip Girls. She designed Tipper Gores inaugural gown and mother of the bride dress, and the trousseau for Karina Gore. In recent years, Unger has ventured into the fields of bedding, via the Kay Unger Home line sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, and Kay Unger and Phoebe Couture Eyewear licensed by Nouveau Eyewear.

A committed philanthropist, she serves as CEO of The Kay Unger Family Foundation. Its mission she refers to as venture philanthropy. She invests in already existing foundations that support cancer care and research. She also provides funding for scholarships to underprivileged youths who are talented in the arts. While president of Fashion Group International, Kay directed the organizations first charitable event for the Night of Stars and FGI raised more than $250,000 for the Evelyn Lauder Breast Cancer Research Center. She has received countless awards for her charity work, including the Spirit of Life Award from City of Hope Cancer Hospital.

Unger has won many awards, including the Human Relations Award of American Jewish Committee in 1996, the 2004 Auburn University Department of Consumer Affairs Appreciation Award, the 2005 15-Year Service Award from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Marymount Universitys 2006 Fashion Designer of the Year Award, and the Committee of 200s 2012 Shining Light on Leadership Award. In 1985 she received the She Knows Where Shes Going Award from the Girls Clubs of America. She was inducted as a Leading Woman Entrepreneur of the World in 1999, and in 2006, First Person Arts and Neiman-Marcus co-produced the retrospective Kay Unger Uncut: A Life in Fashion. Unger was on the cover of the Top 50 Women in Business issue of Savvy magazine and has been a popular lecturer, moderator, and guest on TV shows from The Today Show to Project Runway.

In August of 2012 Kay launched Kay Unger Design LLC. Born and raised in Chicago, Kay now lives in SoHo. She has two sons and three grandchildren (with another on the way).

 

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