ALL FOR QUINN: The fashion industry doesn’t always follow small-bore local politics as closely as national ones. So when Cosmopolitan editor in chief Joanna Coles convened a luncheon for New York mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, at Hearst Tower no less, designers and fashion magazine types flocked to get an education over mahi-mahi and chablis.
Derek Lam and Barneys chief executive officer Mark Lee were seated next to each other.
This story first appeared in the April 12, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Lam: “When’s the election, again?
“September, ” Lee said, referring to the primaries.
Lam agreed they are in September. The election itself is in November.
On the Tower’s 44th floor, Quinn gave the well-attired crowd her basic stump speech on topics like housing reform and education and then took questions. Dressed in an Elie Tahari suit, the city council speaker didn’t have to try very hard to impress. “Project Runway” mentor Tim Gunn, practically swooning, helpfully said he was concerned about complacency because everyone assumes Quinn will win. “What can we do to help?” he asked.
But questions about the fashion trade also came up. Council of Fashion Designers of America ceo Steven Kolb asked Quinn what she proposed to do to preserve the Garment District. Quinn was vague with her answers but conceded the zoning restrictions that cover the district aren’t working. “We have to put more reforms in and ideas or update the zoning in place,” she said. A study from the CFDA and the Design Trust for Public Space had come to much the same conclusion in October. How would she encourage apparel manufacturers to stay in the district or in New York City? One possible solution is to create a small manufacturing incentive fund for the garment industry, Quinn said. That has already worked out for large-scale factories outside Manhattan.
“You want to have subsidies for industries that need them and that will keep or grow jobs,” she said.
The speech and short Q&A had been proposed by Coles over coffee recently, Quinn told WWD. She wanted to acknowledge the industry’s importance to the city. But it was also another chance to connect with a constituency she’s been courting for some time. Quinn was profiled in Elle last March, New York magazine gave her a vampy makeover in January and Vogue is picking up the baton in June with a profile that’ll feature a new portrait.
It doesn’t hurt that fashion is also a base that has a lot of disposable income lying around. In the crowd were producer Desiree Gruber, “Modern Family” redhead Jesse Tyler Ferguson and designers Isaac Mizrahi and Rachel Roy. Hearst Corp. ceo Frank Bennack was on the 44th floor as well for a meeting, but did not stop by to listen to the presumptive mayoral front-runner.
The normally opinionated Quinn was only restrained about one subject: Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former congressman who, in a much-discussed profile in the New York Times Sunday Magazine by Jonathan Van Meter — who’d also profiled Quinn for New York magazine — floated the possibility of running for mayor. Could a woman survive a sex scandal like Weiner’s to mount a political comeback?
“All I have to say about anything related to that is I wish Anthony Weiner and his family well,” Quinn said.