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Thursday, October 21, 2010

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Fern Mallis, President of Fern Mallis LLC, Legendary Creator of Fashion Week in New York

Fern Mallis is the President of Fern Mallis LLC., a company recently formed to "advise, consult and create" and to work with international and domestic fashion, lifestyle and design companies on everything from branding and image to creative business strategies.  After 9 years as Senior Vice President of IMG Fashion, Mallis' new business will retain IMG amongst its first clients.

Ms. Mallis is widely credited as the creator of "Fashion Week" in New York City in 1993 under the auspices of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), where she served as Executive Director for 10 years.  7th on Sixth, as it was first known, organized, centralized and modernized the American runways allowing American designers to compete head-on with Milan and Paris, forever changing the global fashion business.  Acquired by IMG in July 2001, Ms. Mallis led new Fashion Weeks in Miami and Los Angeles, Berlin and Moscow, expanded Mumbai, and added Sydney and Melbourne to its portfolio, among others.

Ms. Mallis also served as IMG's "Ambassador" and traveled to international fashion capitals to provide her expertise in creating and organizing fashion events and establishing international marketing and communications platforms.  She has judged fashion shows and competitions, and mentored fashion students about how to succeed in fashion careers.  She is widely quoted in the fashion press and online media and frequently featured on televised fashion programs, including America's Next Top Model, She's Got the Look, four seasons of Project Runway, and as the weekly judge on Bravo's first season of The Fashion Show, with Isaac Mizrahi and Kelly Rowland.

Prior to joining IMG, while Ms. Mallis was the Executive Director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) from 1991 to 2001, she furthered the organization's original charter to promote American fashion as a "recognized branch of American art and culture."  Ms. Mallis organized 10 annual CFDA Fashion Awards Galas, was instrumental in the creation and worldwide licensing of Fashion Targets Breast Cancer-- a campaign that has sold over $100 million in merchandise to date and has generated more than $80 million in donations for hundreds of breast cancer organizations worldwide.  She oversaw two editions of the highly successful fundraiser "7th on Sale," which grossed more than $8 million for AIDS charities.  Mallis also implemented the Foundation's burgeoning philanthropic goals to raise money for design scholarships, while also helping to create theCFDA/Target Design Initiative.

A founding board member of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids (DIFFA), Ms. Mallis also served on the Board of The Partnership for the Homeless and created their Furnish a Future program.  She has also been instrumental in the success of The Heart Truth's Red Dress Initiative for Women's Heart Disease.  We are thrilled to present her as our latest Mover and Shaker!!!

Peachy Deegan interviewed Fern Mallis for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What was your favorite outfit as a child?    
Fern Mallis: A pair of high-waisted Capri pants in pink and black harlequin print with a sleeveless white blouse and matching collar.

How old were you when you started becoming interested in fashion: reading fashion magazines, etc? 
I don’t remember, I was always drawing bodies and clothes, and reading WWD when my father brought it home from work…and going to work with him in Garment Center when I was 7, 8 years old..

How do you like Fashion Week in Lincoln Center compared with Bryant Park?  
It’s bigger and feels very new and modern in Lincoln Center and it works fine, but I still love the Bryant Park Tents the best.
What should men in Manhattan know about Fashion that most do not?   
That fashion is for everyone, and it can be both painless, and fun, and that you don’t have to be gay to care about how you look and feel and communicate via your clothes.

What should women in Manhattan know about Fashion that most do not?  
That Fashion is not about a price, but about a passion, and  style can be learned and cultivated….and also you can buy just about anything in NY.     And both Men and Women should know that the most important thing they should have in their closet is a full length mirror!
In your opinion, what are some of the hottest trends this fall, and as we go into winter, what will the cold weather trends be? 
Lots of big knits and sweater dressing, more pants, suits are back, tweeds, animal prints-again, Cold weather will bring out the furs and Boots are the hottest accessory category…short, tall, tight, scrunchy, elegant and clunky…
How is it possible to be fashionable and be warm? (Other than go to Florida).  
Layer your clothes and coats are very chic this season… and furs will be out again, I predict a horribly cold winter.

What are the goals of Fern Mallis LLC both short-term and long-term?  
My goals are to work on projects, and ideas that are interesting and creative, and to work with people I enjoy, and to continue to travel and work with talented people and products all over the world…..short term and long term are not different for me, but I am taking my time.

What should the world know about Fern Mallis LLC?   
They should know that Fern Mallis LLC  was established to “advise, consult and create” and to work with international and domestic fashion, lifestyle and design companies on everything from branding and image to creative business strategies.  I am excited about the potential, and look forward to working with many interesting people…it is evolving slowly- just the way I want it to…It’s still a little early to talk about it….so stay tuned.

What makes New York Fashion Week better than every other city's Fashion Week?   
New York makes it special.  This is a fabulous city that has a very different personality from Paris-Milan-London, etc.. It’s also the only Fashion Week which truly champions new, young, emerging designers.

If you were a model in a runway show in the tents whose show would you want to be in and what would you wear?    
First of all- that would never happen, but if I were to dream the runway dream- probably Michael Kors show…its always the most upbeat, and happy, the models smile and look great, the whole show moves quickly, and the clothes are always gorgeous and are exactly what I love to wear.  I’d happily wear some 12 ply loose, drapey cashmere sweaters over a slim pant…and whatever Michael wanted me to wear.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence? 
Gandhi…and my family.

What are you proudest of and why?  
I’m most proud professionally-of creating Fashion Week in NY, and how it has completely changed the fashion landscape and balance around the world.  I’m also proud of all the amazing talented people who have worked for me, or interned with me…and have gone onto spectacularly successful careers.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?  I’d like to write a book or books…and I’d love to create a Foundation to fund organizations and people doing amazing, worthwhile things all over the world…like Blake Mycoskie of Tom’s Shoes…

What honors and awards have you received in your profession? 
There have been many, and too numerous to list or remember them all, but these are some that come to mind and some of the most recent: NYC & Co Leadership; Fashion Group Int’l- Icon Award;  Parsons A.A.S –Icon Award; Fashion Center BID- Award of Recognition; Concern Worldwide- Fashion Leadership;  Big Apple Awards- Hall of Legends;
American Image Awards- Fashion Maverick;  National Breast Cancer Coalition- Leadership; American Heart Association; Greater Washington Chamber of commerce- Elements of Fashion Legacy Award; Momentum- Hall of Fame.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? 
Can’t say I have a favorite place- perhaps my apartment….but also feel so good whenever I’m at the theater- and it makes me remember why it’s so great to live in NY.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?  
Also very hard to pin down to a favorite,,,but I love the Solange Azugury-Partridge store on Madison and 68th.

What is your favorite drink? 
A good Margarita (no salt)

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? 
Impossible to pick one…but I love and frequent-- Lambs Club;  always love the Four Seasons; Peter Luger;  Michaels; Standard Grill; Esca; Lion; ABC; Da Silvano; T-Bar; and I spend a lot of time at Nespresso on Madison Ave.

What is your favorite Manhattan book? 
Time & Again by Jack Finney

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?  
Bryant Park- for obvious reasons…but I’ll take a bench.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?  
Watching and cheering the marathoners—back in the early days- and attending a Knicks game at MSG, sitting courtside…when they were winning…(it’s been awhile)

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?  
Going to Boom Boom Room  for drinks when out late in NY, or when at home-- ordering Chinese food at midnight….can’t do that in many other places.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?  
Having just had my portrait in an exhibit “Thirty Portraits in 30 Days” at The Nat’l Arts Club on Gramercy Park- painted by Vincent Fantauzzo;  and Sting’s most recent concert at the Met.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?  
All the new bike lanes and public plazas in the middle of the streets.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it? 
I don’t have a favorite.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?  
That I hate Cilantro.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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