Fern Mallis On What NYFW Might Look Like in September

by Eddie Roche

Nobody is sure yet what New York Fashion Week will look like in September, but we were curious what the godmother of fashion, Fern Mallis, thought things could look like in the fall. The creator of NYFW and the former executive director of the CFDA gives us her take on what might be ahead. 

How have you been doing these past few months?
I’m out at my house in Southampton, which is on a beautiful lake, so it’s very hard to complain. I’ve been in pretty good spirits, even though I still haven’t cleaned out all the closets I want to, but I’ve made a little progress between Zoom calls and meetings and too many IG Live stories. My eyes are tearing from staring at too many screens all day long. But honestly, I am getting very restless and it’s time to move on. It’s getting tiresome.

Fashion Week will look very different in September if it’s even able to go on.
I don’t know what it will look like, but I can’t imagine anything that resembles a traditional runway show and audience. Do you want to sit in a crowd with a lot of fashion people?  Perhaps presentations could make sense, which would be easier to manage crowds effectively. Models can be staged at appropriate distances  with a small number of attendees passing by. First however, we have to see which designers are still standing and if they’ll have collections and can get samples produced.

What rules do you think should be implemented?
I’d assume social distancing may still be the rule of the day and fashionable designer masks. And lots of fancy hand sanitizers. I would imagine organizers would be collaborating with city officials and health experts, and producers and designers for the best guidelines to follow.

Are you getting the impression that designers want Fashion Week to occur if it’s possible?
My sense is they want something to occur and they need to get their collections in front of their accounts and more so now, in front of their customers.

Fern Mallis and Rick Owens (Patrick McMullan)

When do you think a decision will be made?
It will need to be pretty soon, but fortunately I don’t have to make it this time.

How will you feel comfortable seeing a show in September?
Probably in front of a computer screen- the same way I’m seeing everything and everyone in the world right now.

There is a talk that a lot of designers might do digital presentations. Do you think they will be as successful?
As successful as a venue full of people? It’s hard to judge what success means. Venues have been full of hundreds of people that have nothing to do with buying, selling or reporting on collections so if through a digital presentation a designer can connect with the people that need to see the collection and if they can create clever ways to communicate and talk to them- perhaps with some version of a Zoom show…and if it results in orders it can be quite successful. But there still needs to be a great deal of soul searching. What do people want to buy now? What do they want to wear? Are they going out? Are they attending galas and benefits? But at the risk of sounding too negative, I do believe this is a time of opportunity and reinvention. We all still are wearing clothes, and I believe when we get through this, people will want to shop, and will want to buy something new. If for no other reason than to celebrate our survival!

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