2010 April 28

Fern Looks Back!

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Fern Mallis and Stan Herman Fern Mallis and Stan Herman
PATRICK MCMULLAN/PatrickMcMullan.com
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On the heels of the news that Fern Mallis, senior vice president of IMG Fashion, is departing to start her own consulting firm, Chic looked back at our Bryant Park commemorative issue, which debuted in February. Behold Fern's favorite Fashion Week memories, below---and click here to download the whole issue!

"Before we moved to the tents, Fashion Week was 50 or 60 shows in 50 or 60 different places. People were still smoking everywhere, and they would put out cigarettes on the fl oor. Editors were constantly getting stuck in freight elevators. Isaac had a show down in Soho where the generators blew and people had to wait in the dark for a half hour until they came back on. It was another one of those moments when you go, Oh my God, this can’t keep happening! People were looking for the emergency exit signs and not paying attention to the clothes. I started my job as executive director at the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1991, right after Michael Kors’s show, where the ceiling collapsed on Suzy Menkes and Carrie Donovan. We were on a mission."

"We went to see Mayor Dinkins to get the city’s support. It was a breakfast meeting, and he arrived in his tennis whites. After we explained what we were doing, he said it sounded great but that the city didn’t have any money. And I said, 'Well, in that case, Mr. Mayor, we may have to consider moving to New Jersey.' And he said, 'Ha! You’re threatening to go to New Jersey?' At the time the only way to get any money was to threaten to move out of New York. It was, of course, a false threat."

"The celebrity thing started from the very beginning. Donna Karan had Barbra Streisand, and Calvin Klein had his celebrity models and muses."

"Bill Blass’s final show was one of the most memorable events for me under the tents. It was right before he retired, and it was still the real Bill Blass. It was in the morning during Hurricane Floyd and just the most horrendous weather in New York. The wind and the rain were coming down like nobody’s business. And we’re in a tent—a temporary structure! We wanted to make sure we weren’t going to get blown away to Pennsylvania! Ladies were coming out of limos with their umbrellas blowing every which way—the ladies really came out for Bill’s show—and he was pacing with his cigarette backstage. And Bill said, “Let’s cancel the show. I’ve done the collection. It’s fine.” But my response was, “No, you can’t do this! You can’t leave the industry this way.” I was in the control booth, and I remember making an announcement asking people to please hold tight so Mr. Blass could have a proper show. Sure enough, the show fi nally started up to the strains of some beautiful Gershwin. It was a classic Blass show, and therewasn’t a dry eye in the place. Afterward, we closed the tents for the rest of the day. There was no way we could do any more."



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