NEW YORK — After nine years as IMG Fashion’s global ambassador and the official face of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Fern Mallis is stepping down to start her own consulting and advisory firm, Fern Mallis LLC.
This story first appeared in the April 29, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Mallis, a senior vice president at the division of IMG Worldwide Inc. who played a highly visible role at the runway shows in Bryant Park, won’t entirely turn her back on fashion week when the shows move to Lincoln Center in September. IMG Fashion has signed up as Mallis’ first client, and will continue to rely on her to consult on its fashion week events, as well as other projects and events related to fashion.
Mallis told WWD the wheels for this change had been put in motion even before February’s fashion week. The transition will take place in the coming weeks.
“It’s something I have been thinking about for a while,” said Mallis. “It seems like there is a lot of opportunity. When we were planning the move to Lincoln Center, it felt like closure, like the end of the cycle. It’s time for a new adventure.”
As executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America in the Nineties, Mallis played a role in centralizing the New York fashion shows in the tents at Bryant Park. She joined IMG in 2001 as part of the entertainment conglomerate’s acquisition of the shows, which were then known as 7th on Sixth, and is credited with overseeing the transition. During her tenure, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week has expanded substantially, attracting multiple sponsors, and with them, a slew of hospitality booths that sometimes gave the fashion week experience a bazaarlike atmosphere. While these more commercial aspects may have irritated some of the attendees, the income from sponsorships clearly was a boon to IMG’s bottom line.
“Fern was an important contributor to the successful growth of our fashion business and a consummate professional in helping our teams create events in the U.S., overseas and in diverse markets,” said Ted Forstmann, chairman and chief executive officer of IMG.
More recently, her role had become more ambassadorial, and she helped IMG expand its fashion week concept globally, from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim in Miami to Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai, often with mixed success.
IMG won’t be naming a successor.
As for Mallis, in addition to her new consultancy, she hopes to pen a book. She wouldn’t divulge any details, however, other than to say that it won’t be a tell-all. “I am not going to do the ‘You’ll never eat lunch in this town again’ [book],” she said. “A lot of designers can rest easily. I didn’t keep minutes from 10 years of CFDA board meetings. I thought I’d remember everything and I don’t.”