“Fern’s fervor for elevating American fashion to its rightful place in art and culture has always been at the heart of her mission. Though her name is not on a label, Fern Mallis made her mark on the world of American fashion. Her amazing energy and passion and respect for the art of fashion and those who craft and celebrate it have been her life’s work.” – Ralph Lauren, Foreword to Fashion Lives, Fashion Icons by Fern Mallis
I met a legend yesterday and was honored to sit with her alone for a few minutes at Saks Fifth Avenue (in North Star Mall) before a book signing event. Fern Mallis is best known for creating the renowned New York Fashion Week venue which, as Fern told me, “energized the industry and leveled the playing field.” She is also known for her provocative interviews with top fashion designers and industry professionals at the prestigious New York 92nd Street Y. From those stories, her new book, Fashion Lives was birthed where she shares intimate details, including the challenges and hardships, of our favorite fashion designers.
At 67, she confessed to going through a mini-reinvention herself as a book author. “I never dreamed of writing a book,” she said. “I did not believe anyone was really interested in my own life. But, these interviews at the Y revealed so much. They were like sitting in a living room and talking openly with people we all would like to know more about. So I was encouraged to write the book.”
Obviously, fans want more of Fern than she must realize. She was greeted warmly in San Antonio and the book signing sold out available copies at the Saks event. She told me that midlife reinvention is about “shaking things up a bit.” She said, “Give it time and energy to follow what you care about. And, don’t appear desperate.”
I also asked her which designers keep midlife women in mind for some of their collections. “I have been telling the designers for years they need to broaden their size range and offer more to women,” She said. But, her picks for who understands all women best right now were Donna Karan and Norma Kamali. Fern spoke to me almost the exact words in her book about Karan.
“Donna is every woman and that is the key to her success. She designs for herself and for us. She feels for us. She cares for us. She gains weight like us, and she loses it. She is devoted to her family. She is a mother, a mother-in-law, and a grandmother. She has loved and lost and had her share of tragedies that have impacted her life and influenced her career. She is insecure like most of us….”
Fern was gracious and enjoyable to speak with. She wrote in my book, “Fashion Lives in San Antonio! Keep Re-inventing and enjoy reading about the icons.” And that is what I will be doing for a long time…it is a big book!
To order the book, go here to FASHION LIVES ON AMAZON.
And have a wonderful Saturday!