SCAD is honored to have Fern Mallis, the legendary creator of New York Fashion Week, as the honorary chair for SCADstyle 2016. We asked the fashion industry titan a few questions in anticipation for her appearances this week in Atlanta and Savannah.
SCAD: You’ve been a part of the SCAD scene at least since 2010. What is your impression of SCAD’s evolution over the past few years? Do you see more SCAD graduates in the working world?
FERN MALLIS: I've been impressed with SCAD since my very first visit. I’ve become much more aware of young designers showing in various regional fashion weeks who are SCAD students and alumni, and in professional competitions like Supima Design Competition. SCAD alumni are definitely becoming a part of the fashion industry.
SCAD: One of SCADstyle’s centerpiece events this year is your conversation with Calvin Klein. What are your earliest memories of him?
MALLIS: I feel like I've always been aware of Calvin Klein. I knew him many years ago on Fire Island. When I was a Fashion Director of Gimbels East in New York City, we carried his collection, and it was the first time I went to his fashion shows, in the late ‘70s. In 1991 when I became the Executive Director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, I got to work with him and admire and respect him even more.
SCAD: What's it like creating New York Fashion Week and then seeing it grow to such an exponential degree?
MALLIS: It's a humbling feeling in many ways, and it's something I am extremely proud of, as having organized Fashion Week back in 1993. It was clearly a game changer. It has, however, morphed and changed so much that now there really isn't any centralized location, there are several, and there are so many shows on the calendar now that it's impossible to really get your arms around it all and see everything. I'm afraid my Bryant Park experience is a very distant memory for most folks.
SCAD: Rizzoli published your book Fashion Icons With Fern Mallis last year. How did the experience of publishing a book differ from your other media endeavors?
MALLIS: Having a book published is very special and unlike anything I've ever done. There is now a history and a bit of my story in The Library of Congress. I couldn't be more proud of anything I've done. It also represents for me a validation of my "reinvention" after leaving IMG/Fashion Week/CFDA. The book was extremely well received, including the Wall Street Journal naming it one of the four best fashion books of 2015. It's now in second printing, and is also being published in Japan (in Japanese!).
SCAD: What are the key traits for turning a talent into a career?
MALLIS: I always say get a partner, get someone who has your back, and has deep pockets. It's really difficult to do it all by yourself. And my constant career advice is "Be Nice!"