Margaret HayesFashion Group International's 20th Annual Rising Star Awards, New York, USA - 26 Jan 2017

Margaret Hayes, president and chief executive officer of Fashion Group international, died Thursday of complications due to breast cancer.  She was 79.

Hayes has been suffering from breast cancer for the past several years.

Hayes joined FGI in 1994 as president.

In her current role, she oversaw such key programs as the group’s annual Night of Stars gala, a symposium series and a ready-to-wear trend forecast.

Earlier in her career, Hayes was a top merchant at Saks Fifth Avenue. From 1981 to March 1993, Hayes served as senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Saks. She had been a director of Movado Group, Inc. since September, 1993. She also served as a director of International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. from 1993 to May 1, 2012.

Hayes was among the honorees in 2017 at the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation’s Hamptons Happening fund-raiser. That honor personally hit home for the fashion executive. Hayes, a supporter of many cancer research initiatives, said at the time, “As a cancer survivor myself, cancer research is not only philosophically critical, but has been vital to me in the course of my own life.”

In 2013, Hayes was also honored by K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, which is now known as Delivering Good.

In addition to orchestrating FGI’s Night of Stars, Hayes championed young designers with FGI’s Rising Stars awards. In the midst of such events, Hayes could often be found trying to keep thing on track, not-so-gently reminding people they needed to find their seats, as the program got started. While her all-black ensembles often made her blend in with the fashion crowd, her tall stature and bold jewelry helped her to stand out. After such events, Hayes was more apt to be analytical than self-congratulatory with such statements as “What did you think?” or “It could have been a little shorter.”

Stan Herman, said, “She was a major column in our business — like the old Greek columns. She was a very fastidious supporter of fashion in a way that kept things organized. She was the most organized person I knew. She had a very specific vision about how to run the fashion group. She was strong-armed about it but usually very fair about it.”

Herman also described her as “an outsider insider,” as in someone who worked in the fashion industry, but she also knew how to run a business with a good motor — which isn’t always common in the industry. Margaret was one of the most respected women in our business. The force of her personality will be missed. That’s for sure,” Herman said.

She is survived by her daughter, Alexandra.

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