Designers Who Work It With a Twist: Discussion with Fern Mallis During Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York

by Rachel Yeomans | February 12th, 2010   

Today we are bringing you something different for our weekly “Designers Who Work It” series. As we are at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week this week, we are seeing and meeting designers galore and showcasing their talent to you every day during this exciting affair! Today I had the absolute pleasure to have a discussion with Senior Vice President of IMG Fashion and the creator of New York Fashion Week, Fern Mallis, during the American Express “Tweet-Up” event (also sponsored by Independent Fashion Bloggers) held at the American Express Skybox within the Bryant Park tents. It was a fantastic opportunity for us fashion bloggers to ask Mallis questions on MBFW then, now and in the future. So today, she is our ‘designer’ who works it!

IMG 0777 Designers Who Work It With a Twist: Discussion with Fern Mallis During Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York

The format of the event this afternoon was very relaxed and quite swanky! The American Express Skybox was literally between the Promenade and the Tent venues within the tents of Bryant Park – so when you looked into either venue, you pretty much had fourth-row viewing from an aerial perspective. Plus they had a full bar, and they lovingly supplied us with sandwiches as not many of us have really eaten since getting here and running on coffee ever since. All of us fashion bloggers sat in the plush benches and chairs while Jennine Jacob, founder of Independent Fashion Bloggers and blogger of The Coveted, and Mallis sat in high stools in the front of the room. It was an open forum with questions and discussion, and lots of interesting topics came forth.

One question that was raised as it is definitely a hot button issue is how bloggers are going to be recognized in the future that is New York Fashion Week as many aren’t allowed in and have just as much influence (if not more in certain cases) than some editors who gain access to the tents. “We are at the behest of the public relations firms,” replied Mallis. “We are the hotel and it’s up to the designers whether to let you in their room or not.” She also shared the importance of the regional editor as they are the ones who support that designer locally whereas bloggers’ audiences are usually international, which is why many times those editors are chosen to attend shows over the fashion blogger. “I actually think that you should go to your garages and post placards and become unionized,” Mallis added.

IMG 0778 Designers Who Work It With a Twist: Discussion with Fern Mallis During Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York

The primary point Mallis brought forth was that New York Fashion Week is a business, and if a publication doesn’t support that business (whether it’s a blog or a print publication), then those editors will most likely not be invited to Fashion Week. “What we’re here to do is sell clothing. This is a business here and we want people here to support that,” she said. The question was raised on what would stand out to IMG when reviewing a blog. Mallis had two qualifications – while adding the disclaimer that the public relations team would be better equipped as they’re more involved in that matter – and they were credibility and concise coverage. “We’re not like the Chinese government I promise!” she exclaimed.

IMG 0779 Designers Who Work It With a Twist: Discussion with Fern Mallis During Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York

Another topic that has been a very talked about subject after its announcement was New York Fashion Week moving from Bryant Park after 18 years and shifting location to Lincoln Center. As to the layout and details, Mallis was quite tight-lipped about the whole thing and primarily shared that it will be a similar set-up to Bryant Park with tents. Otherwise, she said we’d have to wait for the official announcements from IMG. One clarification Mallis did make was how the announcement was originally delivered about the move.

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The decision for New York Fashion Week to shift locations came not from Fashion Week but from Bryant Park. The announcements on the move that came from Bryant Part and the city all stated that Fashion Week just got too big for Bryant Park. “That message has been misconstrued and misunderstood,” stated Mallis, as she said that they never expanded Fashion Week as the number of seats never changed. “The message got too big…Bryant Park got too big [for Fashion week].” When asked about her most shocking moments during the 18 years of Fashion Weeks at Bryant Park, Mallis replied, “Well the most shocking moments I probably wouldn’t say.” However she did admit that throughout the years, she would have experiences that she would say to herself that she’d never forget it, but then the next day happened that completely overshadowed the previous event. “I hate myself for not taking more notes,” she said. The two memories she did share with us involved Bill Blass’ last show and 9/11. “The reporters literally took off their stilettos and put on their running shoes to cover a completely different story,” she recollected.

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While wrapping up questions, Mallis was asked if she read any blogs. “Some,” she replied, admitting that she struggles to find the time to give quality reading time to the fashion blogs in circulation. She did admit that reading blogs “is a little bit like Alice in Wonderland as it doesn’t end and keeps going and going.” However she did say that she is very excited to read all of the blogs of those of us who attended the discussion today. So Mallis, if you are reading this, thank you very much for your time and fantastic discussion today at the American Express ‘Tweet-Up“ event during this year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week!

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