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Megan Waldrep is a freelance writer based in Carpinteria, CA. See more at: www.meganwaldrep.pressfolios.com

Fern Mallis: Legendary Creator Of New York Fashion Week

For 17 years, Bryant Park was home to the tents of New York Fashion Week.  Credit:  New York Times

For 17 years, Bryant Park was home to the iconic tents of Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: New York Times)

As Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week prepares for its final walks down the runway, the excitement lives on through talks of this years favorite designers and hopes of next year’s shows.  But now, it finds itself in familiar territory: MBFW is moving on from Lincoln Center and will have to find a new place to call home.

And I think they’ve found it.  The soon-to-be-developed Hudson Yards, an underdeveloped 26 acre plot between 10th and 12th Avenues and West 30th-33rd Street will become the breeding ground for not only the fashion world in 2014, it will also harbor high-end office spaces, dining, entertainment, and luxury living:  a practical, commercial, and corporate environment.  A far cry from the romantic past and non-conformist spirit swirling in the tents of Bryant Park.  Those were the days….

The NY Fashion Week tents at Bryant Park encompassed most of the area including the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain (Photo Credit: Furinsider)

The Fashion Week tents at Bryant Park encompassed most of the park including the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain (Photo Credit: Furinsider)

Let’s break down what Fashion Week actually is.  It’s a week long event where runway shows, presentations, and other installations by designers take place all over the city (not just the current venue of Lincoln Center) to show their newest collections to audiences from around the world.  From tiny apartments, to art galleries, designer studios, and huge runway shows, this is what Fashion Week is all about.

Most will agree, the most iconic days of Fashion Week (and what put it on the global map) were held from 1993 until 2009 in Bryant Park.  Big, white tents in a cozy city park was the capital of the fashion world for two weeks a year.  Mere blocks from the Garment District, designers, fabric shops, and fashion showrooms inhabited the city like a stylish commune of creativity.  Fern Mallis is the legendary creator of New York Fashion Week and had the vision to bring runway shows together.  By creating the invite-only event in Midtown Manhattan, she gave the fashion community a home where designers, press, buyers, and VIPs from around the globe could communicate, share ideas and show designer collections.

Photo Credit:  Bravo TV

Fern Mallis. (Photo Credit: Bravo TV)

Fern Mallis is most recently known for her role as judge on Bravo’s The Fashion Show with Isaac Mizrahi and Kelly Rowland, and prior to that as judge for four seasons on Project Runway.  In the fashion industry, she’s known for her role as Senior VP of IMG Fashion, and as Executive Director of the Council Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).  She is currently the host of the highly regarded discussion series, Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis at New York’s 92nd Street Y and also broadcast on Sirius XM’s talk channel, STARS.

Fern spoke with the Huffington Post about the 2014 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Shows saying, “I’ve been seeing some beautiful clothing from all over town. I think that the shows have been going well, thank God the weather’s holding out. You know, there’s a lot of controversy everywhere about it’s too many, too big, too much. Too commercial. But the truth is, New York has the best talent right now, and the best young emerging talent and young designers are showing that anywhere in the world at this moment and that’s pretty impressive”.

All good things come to an end.  No longer the days where designers can (literally) roll the sparkling new collections from their studios in the Garment District straight to the runways.  The move of the event from it’s seventeen year home in Bryant Park has changed the vitality and has made a major impact on the Garment District.  Most designer studios have moved and the spaces have turned into residences and office space.  Over half of the fabric stores have gone.  As Nanette Lapore once said, “it (Bryant Park) was a reminder that Fashion Week was connected to the pulse of New York.”  For almost two decades, Fern Mallis helped create history.  “Under the tents” now lives on in champagne dreams and, “remember when.”

Edited by Brandy Voirin.

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