Kenneth Cole Dresses up Black Tie Dinner

by Jenny Block
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Nov 13, 2008

Kenneth Cole is heading back to Dallas, Texas. I say heading back because he's in Dallas every year as part of the amfAR fundraising event held at the Dallas Museum of Art. This time around, though, he'll be in town to keynote the 27th Annual Black Tie Dinner next weekend.

Black Tie Dinner, Inc. is "a nonprofit organization that raises funds for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender supportive organizations serving North Texas through a premier event of empowerment, education, and entertainment in partnership with the community." The event has raised more than $11.75 million dollars since its inception.

Also performing at this year's event will be Ross Mathews, a.k.a, "Ross the Intern;" dancer Nicole Loizides of MOMIX; and character actor Beth Grant, from LOGO's "Sordid Lives." This year's event will benefit 18 local organizations in addition to the Human Rights Campaign.

It's no wonder that Cole would be asked to speak at Black Tie, as he has been a long time advocate of the LGBTQ community and a philanthropist of the highest degree throughout his career. He is also well admired for inspiring others to give back as well, and his new book that aims to do exactly that has just hit the shelves this week. EDGE caught up with Cole to hear more about Awearness: Inspiring Stories About How to Make a Difference.

EDGE: So, your new book just came out today, how are you feeling?

Cole: (Laughs) It's a crazy time. These are very hard moments for me. I am very self-critical. Words are hard for me. I believe everyone has ADD. (Laughs again.) I labor to say as much as I can in as few words as I can.

EDGE: How did you come to create such a huge project?

Cole: It never starts huge. It starts off as a little project. It grew.

EDGE: Indeed. You say the book project sprang from six essays to 86, right? How did you know when you were done?

Cole: If I didn't stop now, I wouldn't have had a medium to show it in. (Laughs)

EDGE: The book has 86 inspirational essays written by people who are all affecting change in their own way. But it is also a how-to guide of sorts when it comes to how readers might make a difference in the world as well. What have early readers and critics had to say about that combination?

Cole: Reactions have been very welcoming and inspiring. People are in a very cool place right now. There is an unprecedented appetite for possible and sustainable change. People are looking for models. Our President elect is one and there are others in the book. We need someone to lead us through this crowded path. All of the contributors [to the book] said that their only regret was that they didn't do more or start sooner.

EDGE: You have been involved in a great deal of philanthropic projects throughout your life even before this project including working very closely with amfAR. How did you manage to do that and to create and grow a business as immensely successful as yours?

Cole: Over the years, I fought and advocated for the things I believed in and I married that with the corporate work [I do].

EDGE: Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. is celebrating 25 years this year. Can you believe what a massive empire you have created?

Cole: I can't. Not sober. (Laughs) I say that in jest because I don't drink. (Laughs) I just don't contemplate that.

EDGE: What's the trick to succeeding as you have?

Cole: To stay focused on where we're going. We can't get too wrapped up in where we've been. It's like when I'm driving. If I do too much looking in the rear view mirror, I'm sure to hit the nearest guardrail.

EDGE: What can other people do to help move things along in the right direction?

Cole: Get involved. Buy my book. (Laughs) Support our initiative. Find inspiring thoughts.

The Black Tie Dinner will be held on Saturday, November 22, 2008 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.

For tickets, visit; call 972-733-9200, ext. # 7; or e-mail Chris Luna at

Jenny Block is a Dallas based freelance writer and the author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" (Seal Press, June 2008). Block’s work has appeared in Cosmopolitan (Germany), USA Today, American Way, BeE, bRILLIANT, the Dallas Morning News, D, Pointe, and Virginia Living, as well as on,, and You can also find her work in the books "It’s a Girl" (Seal Press, March 2006, ed. Andrea J. Buchanan) and "One Big Happy Family" (Riverhead Press, February 2009, Rebecca Walker, ed.).


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