Comfort Souls

SIX REMARKABLE WOMEN, three high-voltage fashion shows, one catchy pop star performance and a princess that surprised the crowd by wearing a chic pantsuit: It all made for a memorable evening in celebration of Ecco’s fifth annual Walk in Style Award presentation, which encapsulates the fashion, innovation and humanitarian facets of the Denmark-based comfort footwear brand.

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SIX REMARKABLE WOMEN, three high-voltage fashion shows, one catchy pop star performance and a princess that surprised the crowd by wearing a chic pantsuit: It all made for a memorable evening in celebration of Ecco’s fifth annual Walk in Style Award presentation, which encapsulates the fashion, innovation and humanitarian facets of the Denmark-based comfort footwear brand.

Marking the start of Copenhagen Fashion Week (Feb. 1-5), the Ecco Walk In Style Award honored an inspiring group of women from an eclectic mix of backgrounds: a fashion designer, journalist, musician, film maker, entrepreneur and figure skater. Each woman was nominated for putting her talents and skills toward improving the lives of women and children around the world. “Women and children make up the majority of the most vulnerable populations,” says Ecco CEO Dieter Kasprzak. “When it comes to helping them, education and medical aid make a real difference. That’s why we have chosen to make women and children the first priority in our efforts to make the world a more comfortable place to live in.”

This year, the award fielded more nominees than ever, representing six countries and six different charities. But only one, determined by a panel that included Ecco’s Head Designer Ejnar Truelsen and Ecco Facebook fans, was awarded $44,000 to donate to the charity of her choice. Denmark’s HRH Crown Princess Mary presented Hadassah de Boer with the grand prize and glass stiletto award. Hadassah, a Dutch journalist inspired by her former-politician mother, was recognized for her cultural and investigative reporting that shed light on issues facing disadvantaged women and children. She plans to donate her winnings to Stitching Vluchteling, an organization that provides refugees in Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe with humanitarian aid and social support.

The award ceremony took place after a fashion show highlighting three groupings of Ecco’s Fall/Winter ’12 collection, each styled and reinterpreted by different Danish designers. The “Aesthetic Being” collection keyed into the modern side of Ecco’s traditional silhouettes with slick patents, minimal color and androgynous looks. Vibrant, funky and sporty, the “Active Vibrations” group represented shoes for an adventurous lifestyle, while lush fur and crafted leather details brought Scandinavia’s wild and unruly landscape to footwear in the “Nordic Breathing” collection. The line’s untamed nature was mimicked by a performance from Danish singer-songwriter Aura Dione, who wowed the crowd with her top hit “Geronimo.” —Angela Velasquez

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