He is truly a favorite of the fashion world, and it’s no wonder why.  William Calvert’s gentle and unassuming character belies the fact that he is one of the most talented designers in the business today.  On Thursday night, the prestigious National Arts Club awarded him its 2011 Innovator Award, though he’s been designing for more than a decade.

It’s not like he hasn’t been honored before.  He’s already received the Moet & Chandon Designer Debut Award, and Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award.  To Calvert, they’re all special but this one is a bit, well, different.  “I think it’s a little bit more intimate,” he told me.  “It’s a little bit, not about the business mark you’ve made, it’s really about your creativity.”

The Baltimore-born Calvert got his degree in fashion from Philadelphia University, then studied at the Accademia Italiana della Moda in Florence, Italy.  He’s worked for some of the world’s biggest fashion houses, Balenciaga, Balmain and Rochas, and even designed for Diane von Furstenberg.  Now he straddles two sides of the fashion world:  his high-end couture line, William Calvert, and his “Desk-to-Dinner” collections for Callula Lillibelle, a company he started with Melanie Fraser Hart just two years ago.

“William Calvert is really about what we view as the best, and, hopefully what you view as the best,” he said.  “It’s about incredibly intricate workmanship, it’s about the best fabric that we can find.  It’s really about that moment when you stand in front of your mirror and you go to that event and you feel five years younger and five inches taller.”

Callula Lillibelle, on the other hand, is for every woman who wants to look great every day.  “Callula is taking that same spirit and putting it in clothes where you can put the blazer on and you’re at the office, take the blazer off, you’re going out to dinner.  It’s a lifestyle.”

The Innovator Award was created by the National Arts Club to honor revolutionary and fearless artists working in the fashion industry, designers who will one day become legends.  William Calvert is well on his way, and no one deserves it more than he does.

Photography: Anton Brookes

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