Catching up: Fern Mallis

by MR Magazine Staff

A couple from the Midwest, with a budding fashionista daughter, recently attended a Manhattan charity event, hobnobbing with Nicole Kidman and other high-profile celebrities. The personality the girl was most excited about her parents meeting? None other than Fern Mallis, executive director of 7th on Sixth and vice president of IMG, better known as the guiding force behind Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.

So what’s new for menswear in the tents? “We’re kicking off the shows this season with Nautica, and they haven’t shown with us in a few years, and welcoming Diesel to the tents for the first time,” says Mallis. “Perry Ellis, Duckie Brown, Buckler, Michael Kors, Lacoste and Custo Barcelona are all returning. CFDA associate members not showing in tents include Adam Lippes, Y-3, Ralph Lauren, Z Zegna, Jill Stuart and Tommy Hilfiger.

“We have several new sponsors this year: the accessory exhibit is sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission, and will exclusively feature shoes from Italy. Havaianas is going to offer customized flip-flops, where invited fans get to pick their own color combinations. MetLife is going to host a ‘Snoopy in Fashion’ runway show.”

And ready for a little New York high style? “We’re also lighting the top of the Empire State Building in fashion colors for the week,” Mallis is excited to report.

“We’re very excited about our tent front design this season. It features an axonometric map of the city in black and white, with Bryant Park represented in green, squarely putting Fashion Week on the map. It shows that the fashion industry is here to stay, in the heart of New York.

“I’m shocked at how many parties there are this season,” asserts Mallis. “Editors and retailers are going to be exhausted even before the shows start!”

And the usual round of celebrities? “Actually, the New York Post reported that no celebrities are coming this year. But celebrity and fashion feed off each other.” And Hillary? “She never comes, and New York politicians need to understand that there are voters at the shows and that it’s a great platform. Laura Bush always attends the Red Dress show!”

Is there a consumer focus to the show? “Although we don’t do anything to specifically promote the shows to consumers, there is so much media coverage, they do hear about everything. We are sponsoring our Fashion Week Live tour again in 2008, which takes fashion directly to the public in cities across the U.S. American Express, another new sponsor this year, will invite some of their Gold, Platinum and Centurion cardholders to events.

Besides coordinating this week’s myriad shows, exhibits, parties and activities, Mallis has also just barely completed moving into a new office space on lower Park Avenue. The director’s plate is full beyond just the New York shows—IMG also produces fashion weeks for Los Angeles and Miami, as well as Moscow, Fashion Fringe in London and Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai. There are also related shows in Hong Kong, Sidney, Pakistan, Berlin and Kuala Lumpur.

When pressed for her personal preferences, Mallis says “I like a guy who has a personal sense of style—like my assistant Ian. He always wears a tie. I love seeing men who show that they care a bit—not over done. With a sense of casualness. Men are the true peacocks out there: We can’t get through fashion week without Patrick McDonald. But style is not a male/female thing. I find it annoying when people let the clothes wear them.”

Keep it tuned to for daily coverage of New York Fashion Week.