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Posts Tagged ‘Fern Mallis’

Vera Wang to Receive CFDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award


Vera Wang during a conversation with Fern Mallis at New York’s 92nd Street Y.

“It was like being in designer heaven.” That’s how Vera Wang describes her stint at Ralph Lauren. “We had everything, anything we needed as designers, particularly as a design director, as a team. It just magically appeared,” she told Fern Mallis during an on-stage conversation earlier this year at New York’s 92nd Street Y. “If Ralph believed in you, he really believed you. And he really supported and believed in me. It was very hard to leave.” That difficult decision paid off and more than twenty years later, Lauren remains a Wang fan. He’ll be on hand this evening at Lincoln Center to present her with the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the special honors at tonight’s Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Awards ceremony.

What began as a bridal business backed by Wang’s father (who saw an opportunity in a low-inventory venture that would require a limited range of fabrics) has grown–smartly and steadily–from ready-to-wear and accessories to flatware, stationery, and lines for the likes of Kohl’s, David’s Bridal, and Zales. (Did you know that she designed the uniforms for the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders?) According to Wang, she is very involved in the array of licensing deals. “With all of these lines, you have to come up to speed, not only from a business sense but technically,” she told Mallis. “That learning curve is something I embrace because I love to learn. I’ve worked hard at it for over a decade, but it’s challenging.”

With her name synonymous with a brand that sells everything from perfume to pillowcases in 35 countries, are there any product categories still on Wang’s wishlist? Looking back to her years as an elite figure skater, Wang is eyeing activewear. “I think that for women and men today, there’s such a natural desire to be comfortable,” she told Mallis. “I’d like to do athleticwear. That kind of clothing, it’s just kind of joyous to be able to walk around in. Especially if you can bring a sense of fashion to it. I’d wear it.” She could also be sweet-talked into another deal. “I do love donuts,” she said. “I think I could do a mean donut.”

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Marc Jacobs Reveals Favorite of His 33 Tattoos, Plans for 34th

Marc Jacobs is not perfect, but the word is etched–in a distinctly imperfect slant of capital letters–on his right wrist as a reminder of an acceptance mantra (“I’m a perfect being in a perfect world where everything that happens benefits me completely”) he learned in rehab. That’s just one of the fashion designer’s 33 tattoos, many of them inked by Scott Campbell, he told Fern Mallis during a wide-ranging conversation held last night at New York’s 92nd Street Y. As for his favorite, that would be the furniture. “A couch. A Jean-Michel Frank couch that is tattooed right here,” said Jacobs, patting his abdomen. “And ask me why a couch, because everybody does, and there’s no reason. That’s exactly the reason.”

The outline of a classic Frank three-seater is joined by a jubilant SpongeBob SquarePants, Oui magazine logos, a red M&M character, and the world “Shameless.” When Mallis asked about the proliferation of cartoon characters, including the Simpsons-ized likeness of the designer himself, he shrugged. “Well, kids on the beach like them. They’re colorful,” said Jacobs. “I think I see life in a kind of cartoony way, and I like colorful tattoos. I never saw tattoos as a dark thing, or ritualistic.” And he’s already thinking about his next one. “I was talking to my trainer today, and there’s this character on South Park called Manbearpig, and I think we might be fighting over which one of us going to get it.”

Looking Ahead to Fashion Week’s Lincoln Center Debut, Sans Fern Mallis

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West siiide! A rendering of the new home of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

The countdown is on to the Lincoln Center debut of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, which will take place September 9 to 16 in Damrosch Park. IMG today unveiled plans for the relocated event, which will feature enhancements to the tents, the ability to stage additional presentations, and access to major transportation routes. Come September, showgoers and designers will find a less chaotic lobby, modified runway theaters and modular designer spaces that support advanced production capabilities, as well as new decor, increased venue/runway sizes, and seating enhancements. In addition to the usual three runway venues (The Theatre, The Stage, and The Studio will replace Bryant Park’s Tent, Promenade, and Salon, respectively) a new fourth presentation space will host designer presentations, industry forums, and press conferences. An expanded web presence is also in the works. All of the improvements won’t translate into increased venue costs for designers, which IMG says will remain the same as in previous seasons. Mercedes-Benz has renewed an agreement to remain the event’s title sponsor for the next three years, but one Fashion Week staple won’t be making the move uptown. Fern Mallis is stepping down from her post as senior vice president of IMG to start her own consulting firm, WWD reports. “It’s something I have been thinking about for a while,” said Mallis, who joined IMG in 2001. “When we were planning the move to Lincoln Center, it felt like closure. It’s time for a new adventure.”

Strike a Pose! It’s Fashion Week

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(Photos: UnBeige)

It’s Fashion Week, and not even a full day of rain can dampen our sartorially minded spirits. Shows and presentations of spring 2010 collections are taking place throughout the city, but the big top is still Bryant Park, where the Mercedes-Benz-sponsored fun kicked off yesterday with a travel theme. In a nod to the event’s imminent move across town, the tents are adorned with images of colorful vintage suitcases, old-school lugggage labels, and flight tickets. “Our tent graphics are a reminder that we will start packing soon, as this is our next to last season in this location,” explains Fern Mallis, senior vice-president of IMG Fashion. “It will take some time to pack up, but the move to Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center in September 2010 is exciting for everyone in our industry and beyond.”

The week is young, but an early standout is ERRO by Anna Larson, a moody and modern line that debuted on Wednesday night at the Ohio Theatre in Soho. Inspired by “light in motion, as it is framed, fractionalized, [and] faded by shadows,” Swedish-born Larson presented a cool line-up of worldly, wearable pieces in a graphic palette of white, gray, indigo, and faded black. Most impressive was the craftsmanship, evident in a tunic of washed, pleated, and intricately woven black silk (pictured above, at left) and knitwear (like the tunic at right) made from yarn that had been hand-printed to simulate a sun-baked fade. Distressed and perforated lambskin and corset-like details sealed the deal. “For me, the effect of putting these pieces together is like seeing light slant through half-open blinds,” said Larson in the show notes. “You’re only getting a fraction of the story, and so you gather your own story out of the shadows.”

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Harper’s Bazaar Partners with Bravo on The Fashion Show

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(Photo: Bravo / NBC Universal)

Following in the footsteps of Elle (Project Runway, Stylista), Allure (Shear Genius), and Marie Claire (Running in Heels), Harper’s Bazaar is dipping its toe into the murky, possibility-laden waters of reality television. The fashion monthly is the “official magazine partner” of The Fashion Show, Bravo’s new Project Runway replacement hosted by multi-talented designer Isaac Mizrahi [subliminal message: go buy whimsical Liz Claiborne separates!] with co-host Kelly Rowland and judge Fern Mallis, queen of fashion week and senior VP at IMG.

Described by Bravo as a “fashion creative competition series,” The Fashion Show follows 15 designers that range in age from 22 to 38 as they compete for a chance to have their designs sold in the retail market and win a $125,000 prize. Harper’s Bazaar comes in on the show’s version of Top Chef quickfire challenges, but this time, jicama will (probably) not be involved. Preceding each weekly elimination challenge, contestants will face off in a “Harper’s Bazaar Mini Challenge,” judged by the magazine’s special projects director Laura Brown. The Fashion Show premieres on Bravo on May 7, but you can get a sneak peek at the 15 designer/contestants—one of whom sports a raspberry beret, the kind you’d find in a secondhand store—in the below video.

Put on Your Sequined Pants, It’s Fashion Week!

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It’s not yet spring, which means that it’s time to look ahead to what you (or at least someone you know) will be wearing and/or coveting come autumn (or at least mid-summer). That’s right, the New York fall collections are once again upon us. Today saw the official kick-off of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in the Bryant Park tents, which this year are a whirl of Stephen Sprouseworthy hot pink in celebration of Barbie‘s 50th anniversary (a squad of the doll’s designer-clad human doppelgangers take the runway tomorrow afternoon).

davidelfin fw09a.jpgBut what of this gloomy economic environment? IMG’s Fern Mallis sees opportunity. “This is a remarkable season where all eyes are looking at American designers, and new exciting talents are being recognized on an international stage, thanks in part to America’s new First Lady Michelle Obama,” writes Mallis in the MBFW program. “Let’s see how the most creative community in the world will respond to these times on the runways.” Among the most intriguing responses we’ve seen so far is that of Madrid-based designer Davidelfin, who today sent out a sharp and moody parade of androgynous mens and womens looks inspired by the work of Diane Arbus. Shimmering against a palette that the designer described as “black, white, grey, blood” was this pair of black sequined pants worn by a model named Gerhard. Stay tuned to UnBeige for more sartorial economic stimulus: we’ll be Twittering mini-reviews from the shows before settling down for some in-depth coverage and trendspotting next week.

Donna Karan Approached Fall Collection with ‘Consciousness’ Intact

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Photo: UnBeige

What’s a designer to do after attending last week’s TED conference and before showing a collection during New York Fashion Week? Well, if you’re Donna Karan, you spend the evening in conversation with Pamela Golbin—curator-in-chief of twentieth century and contemporary fashion at the Musée de la Mode et du Textile in Paris—and a sold-out crowd of fans (we spotted Fern Mallis among them) at New York’s French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF). Last night, Karan kicked off FIAF’s 2009 Fashion Talks series on a pensive and passionate note, reflecting on her own career in fashion while providing the audience with a few cryptic hints about the Donna Karan New York fall 2009 collection that she will show on Monday afternoon at her Greenwich Street studio.

“Consciousness” was the key word of the evening. “When I think of Donna Karan the company, I think of a woman’s consciousness,” said Karan, as cinematic images from print campaigns past looped on a screen behind her. “It’s about the role that women play and the energy needed today.” Energy and emotions are also the starting points for her design process (she is more likely to be inspired by a handful rocks in East Hampton than the artists who once worked there or the seasonal zeitgeist that now does), the end point of which she characterizes as “comfortable, sensual, day to evening” and “hopefully, a mix of fantasy and function.”

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Fashion Week Gets Political

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Photo: UnBeige

Strange bedfellows and strident calls for change are de rigueur in the fashion world and so what better theme for this election year installment of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week than “Vote Fashion/Fashion Wins,” conveyed in a flurry of campaign buttons? “Our seasonal graphics will hopefully remind all elgible voters to vote in our upcoming Presidential election,” writes IMG Fashion’s Fern Mallis in her welcome letter to attendees. “We also encourage you to ‘vote fashion’ with your pens and cameras. Select the shows and collections you like best, and vote with your dollars, euros, pounds, or yen when you decide which collections to buy for the Spring/Summer 2009 season…and also decide who gets the vote for your reviews and editorial coverage.”

NYFW buttons.jpgAt least two of yesterday’s opening day shows were in step with the political theme. Perry Ellis designer John Crocco looked to “democratize preppiness” by injecting a West Coast flavor into East Coast menswear staples while Nicole Miller‘s voodoo inspiration recalled the divining of punched chads that was all the rage just eight years ago. Swaim and Christina Hudson, who design Obedient Sons & Daughters, will take a countercultural approach in their show this afternoon, inspired by the directive “Turn on, tune in, and drop out.”

Meanwhile, we reached across the aisle—or at least the snaking line for yesterday’s BCBG Max Azria show—to make a new friend in the charming Louisa Gleichman, a mediabistro.com fan and former Vogue intern who is covering the spring shows for Six Degrees Magazine and Atlanta Magazine. We can’t wait to read her take on the macaroon-hued confections that walked the runway last night at Erin Featherston. But the best news so far this Fashion Week is the decision to elect UnBeige favorite Ralph Rucci as this year’s Mercedes-Benz Presents Designer, an honor that comes on the heels of his 2008 National Design Award for fashion design. Rucci, who will show his Chado Ralph Rucci spring collection on Friday evening, was chosen for his commitment to quality and his focus on luxury. For a better idea of Rucci’s platform, don’t miss the David Boatman-directed documentary, Ralph Rucci: A Designer and His House, which premieres September 22 on the Sundance Channel.

Previously on UnBeige:

  • Fashion Week Countdown: Koi Suwannagate
  • Fashion Week Countdown: Alexander Wang
  • Fashion Week Countdown: Tracy Reese