When we first heard that Fern Mallis, who ran New York Fashion Week at IMG for almost a decade, was launching a jewelry line on QVC, our initial reaction, we must admit, was: really? Mallis is a fixture in the New York fashion scene, having gone on to host a series of talks with fashion icons at the 92nd St. Y as well as a SiriusXM radio show called “Fashion Insiders With Fern Mallis” after she left IMG. While Mallis obviously knows the fashion biz in New York inside and out, we never suspected she was into making fashion. But she is.
Mallis has just announced that she’ll be launching a jewelry collection for QVC called Fern Finds: by Fern Mallis, which she’ll hawk live during New York Fashion Week (obvi), starting on Friday, February 10 at 10pm (EST). We chatted with the former Fashion Week head honcho to find out just what inspired this move to design, whose style she looks up to, and which of her fashion friends she consulted with before starting her line.
Fashionista: You’ve worked with designers for years–what made you decide to get in the game?
Fern Mallis: I’ve always been a creative person and have designed big events, my apartment, my parties, and some of the things I wear. I don’t call myself a “designer” but I’ve always had a sense of my style. This collection is appropriately named “Fern Finds” because it is inspired by accessories that I have purchased throughout my life. I’ve adapted the pieces so that they can be manufactured and made available for a larger audience at a reasonable price.
I’ve read the collection will be inspired by pieces from your travels–what are your favorite finds?
I truly love shopping when I travel…it’s a major part of any trip. I love discovering new things and finding locally-made, crafted items, as I feel these never go out of style. I have a great necklace of beads I bought from a woman sitting on the curb in Mumbai on a side street in the Colaba Market. She had a mountain of colorful necklaces in a huge basket and I picked through them until I found the perfect one that I love…In South Africa, I met a very stylish woman who had a great little shop with jewelry and crafts from many of the women working all over the country. I love several of the multi-beaded, multi-strand necklaces and collars that I bought from her.
What do you look for in jewelry when you travel?
I look for things that are interesting and that you don’t see in every shop or know will be readily available in NY when you come home. I also look for things that make me happy and make me feel good and that “talk to me.”
Have you shopped QVC? What about QVC appeals to you?
Yes and I love the immediacy of it all. It makes you have to decide quickly…not like a store where you browse and then know it will be there next week if you decide to buy it. I also like that the “designer/creator/company rep” can tell you about it and explain why they love it or why you should buy it and what makes it special. It’s hard to get someone in retail to tell you anything about what they are selling in a store.
How do you like being on camera? You seem to be on stage a lot lately! Is there more acting/on camera work in the future?
I’m comfortable on camera when I’m talking about things I know and care about. I did so many interviews when I was at the CFDA, running Fashion Week, and I loved talking about all the great things that were going on. That is what I continue to do now. I may be on the other side of the microphone with 92Y or SiriusXM, but I’m asking questions and getting designers and people I like, admire and respect to share their stories. “Love, Loss and What I Wore” was a completely different experience, a new challenge and adventure, but basically in an area that I am comfortable – talking about how clothes or the experience of wearing certain things impacts your life and your memories. Who knows what’s next?
What designers to you look up to or have you consulted with for this first design endeavor?
I am a fan of too many designers to even begin to list them. But I did share a lot of my journey with FERN FINDS: with Stan Herman, who is a dear friend, designer and QVC Icon.
Whose style do you love?
This is harder to answer than I thought….the late LuLu de la Falaise, Audrey Hepburn, Donna Karan’s Urban Zen, and Li Edelkoort.
Take a look through some of Fern’s pieces for QVC. Thoughts?