By: Team FMW
Fern Mallis, president of Fern Mallis LLC., that deals with international and domestic fashion, lifestyle and design companies on branding, image, and creative business strategies. She is widely credited as the creator of ‘Fashion Weeks’ in New York City (in 1993) under the auspices of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA),
Recently her fashion expertise have spread to televised fashion programmes including America’s Next Top Model, She’s Got the Look, four seasons of Project Runway, and as the weekly judge on Bravo’s first season of The Fashion Show, with Isaac Mizrahi and Kelly Rowland.
Fern Mallis exclusively talks to FMW about the fashion scene in India.
Which are the shows you are looking forward to at Lakme Fashion Week this season? You have been a big supporter of Kallol Datta, and sported his outfits at several occasions.
I am very pleased for Kallol. I think he is very talented, and it’s nice to see designers at this stage to be acknowledged with a finale show. However, the schedule is filled with many new names I am not familiar with, so I was not necessarily looking forward to seeing them, since I don’t know their work.
Having been the founder of New York Fashion Week (now known as MBFW), do you think India is ready to catch up with contemporary fashion which, not many years ago, was dictated by fashion capitals of the West such as London, New York, Milan and Paris?
I still believe fashion news and influence comes from New York and Europe. While, LFW holds its own in the market for customers it is appealing to. Fashion weeks are not about ‘catching up’ with other cities.
Over the years, the digital space has boomed. Designer labels are now made available with a click. Do you think that this would pose as a threat to the entire concept of fashion weeks? Could this be the reason why many established designers have chosen to opt out of them?
Nothing replaces seeing clothes on a model on the runway. People still need to see the clothing, and generally see it as a complete vision with the designer’s point of view. The digital world is forcing adjustments in the way people purchase, and decide, but that is not the reason designers abandon the runway.
Lakme Fashion Week has been missing some stalwart designers and some of their biggest supporters this season. What is your take on this new wave of change?
Designers are always changing, moving and being unpredictable. Nothing stays the same in the fashion space.
Many International buyers have expressed concerns that the seasons (summer resort/ winter festive) followed by LFW are not conducive for placing international orders since by the time the stock is delivered to the stores, the season comes to an end.
The dates were changed several years ago in response to the needs of the retailers in this country where major business was done by the designers. The advisory board, to the best of my knowledge, exists to represent the industry and its needs.
You have been setting waves with the new series of interviews hosted by you on www.92y.org. Do you have similar plans for India?
I’m extremely proud of my ‘Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis’ series in NYC, and while I don’t have any plans for a similar programme in India, under the right circumstances I’d be open to it.
You have been committed to the cause of promoting Indian Fashion for years now. Do you have anything in store to promote the legacy of fashion in India?
I came to Mumbai this time for a Tara Jewels board meeting, and we are working on some exciting new initiatives. I am exploring some additional opportunities for Indian designers.
Besides attending the shows at Lakme Fashion Week, which other places do you like visiting in Mumbai?
I like visiting Mumbai with my friends, and try to go to Trishna for a lunch or dinner. I always enjoy being at the Taj, sitting outside near the pool for a fresh lime juice. I have several shops that I always visit like Amrapali, D Popli, Melange, Ensemble, Good Earth, even FabIndia and many others.