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Fern Mallis is the Senior Vice President of IMG Fashion. She is widely credited as the creator of New York “Fashion Week.” Organized in 1993, under the auspices of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), where she served as Executive Director for 10 years. 7th on Sixth, as it was originally named, was created to organize, centralize and modernize the runway collections. 7th on Sixth provided a platform for American designers to become competitive players within the global fashion community. Acquired by IMG in July 2001 and now called IMG Fashion, the company under Mallis’ leadership currently produces Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami Swim.
In addition to overseeing IMG Fashion’s U.S. events, Mallis is actively involved in the growing portfolio of events around the world, including fashion weeks in Mumbai, Moscow, Sydney and Berlin among others. She travels frequently to international fashion capitals providing her expertise in creating and organizing fashion events as well as in establishing an international marketing and communications platform for fashion weeks globally.
Prior to joining IMG, Mallis was the Executive Director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) from 1991 to 2001, where she furthered the organization’s original charter to promote American fashion as a “recognized branch of American art and culture.” There, Mallis worked closely with the then two hundred-plus CFDA designer members on important industry matters and organized 10 annual CFDA Fashion Award Galas, which celebrated and recognized talents and contributions by individuals from vast areas of the arts and fashion industry. As Executive Director of the CFDA Foundation, Mallis was instrumental in the creation and worldwide licensing of Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, a campaign that has sold over $100 million in merchandise to date and has generated more than $50 million in donations for hundreds of breast cancer organizations worldwide through its licensees in Brazil, Argentina, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Australia, Canada and additional countries. Mallis also oversaw the highly successful AIDS fund-raiser, 7th on Sale, which twice grossed more than $8 million for charities. In addition, she implemented the Foundation’s burgeoning philanthropic goals to raise money for design scholarships and also helped create the CFDA/Target Design Initiative.
Prior to joining the CFDA, Mallis served as a consultant for the fashion and interior design industries and was Vice President of marketing and communications for the International Design Center, New York. She was also the principal of Fern Mallis Public Relations, whose clients included Knoll International, Jack Lenor Larsen, Stendig International, Ward Bennett for Brickel, Bromley-Jacobsen, Architecture & Design and a wide array of companies within the interior and architectural industry.
Mallis' career within the fashion industry began at Mademoiselle magazine, winning the magazines coveted “Guest Editor” competition, which was followed by several years as Merchandising Editor. She has worked on the retail, wholesale and promotional sides of the fashion industry.
She is was a founding board member and former vice chair of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids (DIFFA), where she was actively involved for over ten years. She served on the Board of Directors of The Partnership for the Homeless and created their visible, and extremely successful, Furnish a Future program. She is a member of The Fashion Group International and serves on a wide variety of fund-raisers and committee’s industry-wide. While currently on the Board of Directors of NYC & Company, she worked on NYC 2012, an initiative to bring the Olympics to New York City.
Mallis was honored in December 2006 by NYC & Co. with their “Leadership in Tourism Award” for all her efforts in making New York City the fashion capital.
Mallis received an award from the Fashion Group International at their annual ‘Night of Stars’ for helping to change the face of fashion. She was also honored by DIFFA at ‘Collection Rouge’ for her decade of commitment to the fight against AIDS and was selected by Wilkhahn Furniture Corp. to receive their first “Fusion” Award. Mallis was then honored by LIM (Laboratory Institute of Merchandising) with their Outstanding Achievement Award. In May 2003, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letter from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. The former Governor Gray Davis declared May 14, 2003, “Fern Mallis” day in the state of California.
She frequently speaks to student groups, having guest lectured and made appearances at Marist College, Kent State University, New York University and Auburn University, and she was keynote speaker at the China Apparel Conference in Beijing, China in 2001 and in 2005 and was a juror at the Chic Apparel Forum in Shanghai in 2002. Mallis was awarded the key to the city of Miami Beach for her efforts in promoting Miami Beach as a fashionable destination with the creation of Swim Shows Miami. With such prestigious accolades, Mallis has proven to be an asset to the event industry and was recognized as a visionary leader when she was inducted in to hall of fame of BizBash M&C Meeting and Event Style Show in November 2007.
Mallis holds a BFA degree from the University of Buffalo and graduated from James Madison High School in Brooklyn, NY, where she won the “fashion design” award and was voted “best dressed” in her senior class.