Back in the 1980s and early 90s, New York City’s annual fashion shows was a disorganized event, without a centralized planning or coordination. Dozens of locations all over the city in various locales created a logistically challenging and expensive week for the fashionistas. This was unlike the yearly shows in Milan or Paris, which were polished well-managed runway shows.
Fern Mallis was just starting at the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). She was at a Michael Kors runway show in an empty loft space in Chelsea in March of 1991, when the show began, and brought down the house. Literally. The thumping bass made the ceiling come loose and it soon was crumbling onto the assembled one-name Supermodels, including Naomi, Cindi, and Linda. The fashion media coverage the next day noted: “We live for fashion, we don’t want to die for it.”
Out of that mess, Mallis created Fashion Week. It was a singular event for the entire New York fashion industry. It has since grown into a huge event in the city, and is a significant economic contributor to the city.
Mallis eventually helmed the influential Council of Fashion Designers of America. She currently hosts a series of interviews with high-profile designers at the 92nd Street Y, collected in the book “Fashion Lives: Fashion Icons With Fern Mallis.”
Her favorite books are here; a transcript of our conversation is posted here.
You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Bloomberg, Overcast, and Stitcher. Our earlier podcasts can all be found at iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast, and Bloomberg.
Next week, we speak with Joseph Davis, Vanguard Group’s global chief economist, and head of Vanguard Investment Strategy Group.