Fashion Lives: Fashion Icon with Fern Mallis
Last week, former founder of the New York Fashion Week (NYFW) and former Executive Director of Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Fern Mallis, presented her book Fashion Lives, Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). She started off the talk with her background of dreaming to work for fashion when she was little. Grew up in a family involved in the fashion industry, her father worked at the garment center for the scarf industry while her uncle worked in textiles. She won the award of the “Best Dress” when she went to Madison High school, but she chose to study fine arts and communication design at University at Buffalo because communication design had “more merits than fine arts.” She had a chance to work for Mademoiselle Magazine and her talent won over 20 other students who were invited to work for the student issue. Having the chance to travel all over America, Fern said that it was the most extraordinary experience seeing the fashion chain in America.
She was the Executive Director of CFDA between 1991-2001. During her interview for CFDA, Calvin Klein asked her “why should we hire you?” Wisely, her answer was, “Fashion is in my DNA. You can’t really teach people that. I go shopping, I read magazines and I wear clothes. Fashion is in me.” This answer got Fern into working for CFDA, and it also resonates with the title of the book “Fashion Lives.” In this book, Fern Mallis interviews 19 American designers. I will share parts of this book once I finish reading it.
When asked about a time working for fashion that gave her the strongest impression, Fern said that during the 911 Terrorist Attack, it was a heart breaking moment to see the fashion show tents being taken down. When asked about incorporating technology into fashion, Fern said that 3D printing will be the future of fashion and we should integrate fashion into technology.
As an inspiring fashion icon, her suggestion to those who work in the fashion industry to “be nice to those you encounter,” because you never know when you will meet these people again. Fern Mallis is an inspiring role model and I am glad I heard her talk last week.