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Pamella Roland at the 62nd Annual Gold Coast Fashion Award Show

The celebrated designer reflects on her career, philanthropy, and Gigi Hadid

Last week, Pamella DeVos (the Michigan-born designer better known as Pamella Roland) was honored at the 62nd Annual Gold Coast Fashion Award Show in Chicago, taking home the evening’s top prize: the Children’s Service Board Award of Excellence. This is the second time the designer has been recognized by the annual affair, which benefits the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. In 2003, DeVos picked up the Gold Coast Award for up-and-coming designers – a prize that has also gone to Tory Burch, Wes Gordon and Marc Jacobs, to name a few.

Awards aside, DeVos’s career has speaks for itself. But for her, the honor came as an opportunity to reflect on her distinguished career. “From [2003] we’ve worked really hard to build the Pamella DeVos brand,” she says. “I started it from the ground up and I never really dreamed I would get something like this, let alone be around for 15 years. When you’re new like that, you don’t realize where you could go, so I just ran with it.” And run with it she did – right into the the CFDA, to which DeVos was inducted in 2010.

DeVos traces her success back to one pop cultural moment: Kim Cattrall’s Pamella DeVos design at the 2004 Emmy Awards, which she wore at the height of Sex and the City’s reign. “Since then, we’ve dressed so many people,” she says. “Just last night Gigi Hadid wore one of our looks,” DeVos says, referring to the baby blue ensemble the model wore for her younger sister, Bella Hadid’s 21st birthday soirée. “[Gigi] is probably the biggest model currently, so all of that is still so exciting. I think it never stops being exciting.”

While she may be accustomed to dressing the biggest stars around, DeVos has plenty starstruck fans of her own. “It’s always fun to meet new accounts who you’re excited to meet, but then they’re also excited to meet you. They say to me, you’re listening to what we want,” she says of her ability to keep up with the times. “Today the gowns are more opulent and full of drama,” DeVos shares, “and that’s what’s selling.”

With three children of her own, it’s fitting the designer has placed her focus on a cause benefitting children. “As humans, we always find time for what’s important to us,” she says on balancing work and life, “and both fashion and charity play pivotal roles in my life.” To that effect, DeVos and her husband started a foundation supporting kids’ health for those in need, whether due to prohibitive costs or physical disability. “For me giving to children is an easy give,” says DeVos. “And there’s so much that’s still needed.”