NEW YORK — Elaine Mehl, former executive director of the MAGIC men’s wear show who during her tenure transformed MAGIC into an international event, died Sept. 4 at the UCLA Hospital in Los Angeles.
Funeral arrangements are being set for Mehl, 56, who died due to complications from a heart transplant. The transplant was Mehl’s second.
“She was a real New York street kid who brought a tremendous amount of energy and a real sense of combat when she moved west to work in a business dominated by men,” said Arnold Karr, a publicist for MAGIC, who knew Mehl for 23 years. “She always wanted to know, ‘What’s the next thing? What are we going to do next?”‘
In 1973, Mehl joined MAGIC as a secretary to the executive director, a post she assumed before the end of that year. Under her command, she relocated the show to San Diego from Palm Springs two years later.
After MAGIC outgrew that site in 1979, she orchestrated the move to Los Angeles. At that point, the show consisted of about 100 exhibitors who were MAGIC members.
When the show’s popularity prompted two competitors, the West Coast Apparel Guild and West Men’s Apparel Club, to stage shows coinciding with MAGIC to feed off its traffic, Mehl opened up registration to non-MAGIC members.
Perhaps her biggest move, however, was taking the show to Las Vegas in 1989, in the face of tremendous criticism and internal board dissension. The move later established the show as a destination for department stores and international buyers.
Mehl is survived by her mother, Francis Graziani; two brothers, Eddie and Robert Graziani, and a sister, Janet Peltrone.