New York Fashion Week Creator Fern Mallis heads to Saint Louis Fashion Week for a second season, shining a light on the newest crop of emerging designer talent.
A force to be reckoned with on the international fashion scene and beyond, Fern Mallis has extended her support of the upcoming season of Saint Louis Fashion Week, bringing her industry expertise and an elite roster of guests—including Refinery29 Editor-in-Chief Christene Barberich, fashion financier Gary Wassner and renowned designer and former CFDA President Stan Herman—along for the ride. We caught up with the New York Fashion Week creator as she prepped for upcoming fashion week appearances in New York, St. Louis and Charleston to talk fashion, trends and the laundry list of other highly anticipated projects on her roster.
ALIVE: What are your feelings on the tremendous growth of the regional fashion week concept?
Fern Mallis: The fashion week concept itself was developed in other countries and cities like Paris and Milan—New York just hadn’t formulated an overall production or event series aspect to it. Now it’s gotten a little bit crazy, but there isadefiniteproliferationof regionalfashionweeksaroundtheworldandaround the country. They all support their local designers, fashion community and retail community, they generate buzz, and they get people into the stores to buy new clothes to wear to those events. If it’s a new designer, they are gaining invaluable experience. They get a chance to put together a show, put it on the runway, have it photographed. It’s a big deal for a young designer.
ALIVE: What’s your take on the increasing amount of emerging designer talent?
FM: I’ve always been supportive of emerging talent. It’s what keeps the industry fresh and exciting, and all of the industry players have been very supportive and encouraging of new talent. It is hard when there are 300 to 400 things on your calendar to keep up with who are the “ones to watch,” so you have to wait and see a little bit, but I think that’s a very positive part of the industry.
ALIVE: What industry trends are on your radar?
FM: Everyone is just trying to stay one step ahead of the curve. More and more of it is about having a better and more dominant presence on the Web and in social media. That’s really where the industry is heading, and it’s creating a lot of opportunities.
ALIVE: What projects are you working on now?
FM: I work on a wide variety of initiatives and projects, and my freedom allows me to do things that I really find interesting. I am on the board for a couple of companies—an Indian jewelry company called Tara and the Robert Graham company here in New York—and I consult for Charleston Fashion Week and Saint Louis Fashion Week. I have a radio show on SiriusXM called “Fashion Insiders with Fern Mallis,” in addition to live New York Fashion Week coverage that will air every day on Stars Channel 109. I am also very, very proud of my interview series that is now in its fourth year called “Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis” at New York’s 92Y, which has just taken off. The series is actually being turned into a book that will be published by Rizzoli that will document the life stories of some of the personalities I have interviewed. The final manuscripts are actually being finished now.
ALIVE: Is there anything in particular that you’ve seen during your travels to various fashion weeks that has really impressed you?
FM: Some cities are inserting the market/trade show aspect into their series, where each designer has a booth and guests can come by after the shows to see and buy the collections. That concept doesn’t really happen in New York, because everyone has a showroom there for the most part, so it’s an interesting inclusion to have that at the smaller fashion week markets. It really works and makes sense. People are able to go and see the shows and do the buying right there on-site.
ALIVE: Do you have a favorite place that you have traveled?
FM: I have lots of favorite places but I go to Mumbai a lot—I really love India. I’ve worked at fashion week there for over 10 years and have probably made over 45 trips there. I also love vacationing in St. Barts or my house in Southampton. You can send me anywhere in Italy and I would be happy, too.
ALIVE: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
FM: I’m very proud of a long body of work, my connections and my friends. I would be crazy to say I wasn’t proud of New York Fashion Week. What happens to it in the future is anybody’s guess, but I was part of it at the point in time that it became a game-changer in America. I ran it for 18 years and was extremely proud of it for all 18 years and how it succeeded.