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4 posts tagged "Ruth Finley"

The CFDA Acquires the Fashion Calendar

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2014 CFDA Fashion Awards - Inside Arrivals

The CFDA announced this morning that it has acquired the Fashion Calendar. The Calendar’s Ruth Finley and CFDA CEO Steven Kolb signed an agreement this past Tuesday. The move comes on the heels of show-schedule doyenne Finley earning the CFDA’s Board of Directors Tribute Award. Her decision to pass the reins comes after helming the famous pink biweekly paper for 65 years, dating back to her days as a student at Simmons College in the forties. “My original thought was to keep my business in my family, but it turned out I didn’t have any granddaughters who were interested in doing it,” Finley told WWD. “Therefore, as a family business, it wasn’t going to work. That basically changed the whole approach. I felt the CFDA was the ideal solution for keeping it going, and I hope it goes on for another 65 years.”

Finley will stay on in the capacity of an adviser, and the Fashion Calendar will continue to exist as a subscription service under the same name. The unified entity won’t make its debut until the Fall ’15 shows, formally going into effect on October 1 and allowing a few months for a smooth transition before February.

There’s cautious optimism that the merger will resolve some of the myriad problems with NYFW’s current chockablock agenda. A veritable minefield of nearly 400 events and overlapping shows, it leaves many an editor and buyer Uber-ing frantically from Milk Studios to the “tents” at Lincoln Center. Here’s hoping the Fashion Calendar’s weighty heritage and CFDA’s 21st-century capabilities make for a winning combo and a more streamlined schedule.

Photo: Neil Rasmus/BFAnyc.com

And The CFDA Awards Go To…

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Joseph AltuzarraThree cheers for Joseph Altuzarra! The talent won Womenswear Designer of the Year, the top honor at the CFDA Awards, which just wrapped at Alice Tully Hall. Altuzarra, who secured an investment from Kering last year, had some stiff competition in fellow nominees Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs, but we’d have to say the honor is much deserved. Public School’s Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow won Menswear Designer of the Year, beating out Thom Browne and Rag & Bone’s Marcus Wainwright and David Neville, and The Row’s Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen took the Accessories Designer of the Year accolade, triumphing over Alexander Wang and Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough.

The third time was a charm for Creatures of the Wind’s Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters, who won the Swarovski Award for Womenswear after being nominated in 2012 and 2013—bravo, boys! And to round things out, Tim Coppens and Irene Neuwirth earned the Swarovski Award for Menswear and Accessories respectively. The big winners were in good company, and shared the stage with such honorees as Tom Ford, Raf Simons, and a crystal-clad Rihanna. As host John Waters put it, “Fashion is power.” Tonight’s celebrated designers and icons certainly have a lot of it. Congratulations to this year’s victors and honorees, all of whom are listed below. Don’t forget to check out our complete coverage of the CFDA Awards, here.

WOMENSWEAR DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Joseph Altuzarra for Altuzarra

MENSWEAR DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow for Public School

ACCESSORIES DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen for The Row

SWAROVSKI AWARD FOR WOMENSWEAR
Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters for Creatures of the Wind

SWAROVSKI AWARD FOR MENSWEAR
Tim Coppens

SWAROVSKI AWARD FOR ACCESSORIES
Irene Neuwirth

GEOFFREY BEENE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Tom Ford

INTERNATIONAL AWARD
Raf Simons for Christian Dior

FASHION ICON OF THE YEAR AWARD
Rihanna

THE MEDIA AWARD IN HONOR OF EUGENIA SHEPPARD
Paul Cavaco

THE FOUNDER’S AWARD IN HONOR OF ELEANOR LAMBERT
Bethann Hardison

BOARD OF DIRECTORS’ TRIBUTE
Ruth Finley

Photo: Getty Images

Calendar Girl: Fashion Veteran Ruth Finley Puts Down Her Pink NYFW Schedule to Pick Up the CFDA’s Board of Directors’ Tribute Award

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Ruth Finley

A new accolade will be bestowed at the CFDA Awards next week when a social-media-savvy individual picks up the inaugural Fashion Instagrammer of the Year Award. There’s no arguing with Instagram’s influence, but will it be as indispensable nearly seventy years from now as Ruth Finley’s Fashion Calendar is today? As a co-ed at Simmons College in the 1940s, Finley envisioned an industry clearinghouse. The mimeograph machine on which it was originally printed has long since been retired and her typist, Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Doris Roberts, has moved on, but Finley’s pink-sheeted biweekly calendar is going strong. Without it, how could insiders ever navigate New York fashion week’s 400-plus events?

These days, the octogenarian spends as much time with her charities—she’s raised more than $2 million for Citymeals-on-Wheels—as she does negotiating scheduling changes, but when Marc Jacobs wants to shift his time slot, his people still call Finley’s people. She took a break from booking the Spring 2015 shows—yes, the Fashion Calendar team works as far in advance as designers do—to talk to Style.com.

How did you get your start?
I met [the fashion publicist] Eleanor Lambert while I was at college. I was her Girl Friday for a huge fashion show she was doing at the Hotel Astor, which no longer exists, for the Red Cross. I had to stay at the Astor in a suite where the clothes were to make sure nobody stole anything. There was a song at the time, “She Had to Go and Lose It at the Astor,” and when my mother heard that, she was going to come and bring me right home. She didn’t understand the whole thing.

And you got the Fashion Calendar off the ground while you were still at college?
I met with two women in fashion, and they were complaining that Bergdorf’s and Saks were doing two shows—same day, same time. It gave me the idea that fashion needed a clearinghouse to avoid that kind of thing happening. I was doing that even before I graduated. Then I came to New York and I took an apartment on 52nd Street, right across from the 21 Club. Fifty-five dollars a month, two bedrooms, but bedbugs! I lived there with my secretary. At night we used to go out to the theater and usher to make extra money. She and I were selling a service, which is a difficult thing—we had to prove how important it was to become part of the Fashion Calendar. At that time, most of the shows were in the department stores. There were at least fifty retailers: Arnold Constable, Franklin Simon, Best, Ohrbach’s—an amazing number of stores. Of course, no designers’ names were published, that came later on. If you were buying a Bill Blass, you would get a Saks Fifth Avenue one.

When did that change happen?
That happened in the fifties, after World War II, when American designers here were becoming more important. During World War II, nobody could go to Paris to buy clothes; that was helpful for us. Gradually the stores began promoting the designers. Eleanor Lambert was important in pushing that, in realizing that designers needed to have the credit that they deserved. American fashion has become more and more important over the years. We were very insignificant back in the forties; we were belittled by Paris. We’re certainly on their level now.

Do you have a favorite decade in American fashion?
I like the fifties a lot. Pauline Trigère and I became quite close. She was sensational. I think she lived until about 92. She was a real designer, you know? She did the cutting and everything herself. My first wholesale dress was Trigère, I was so excited to have a designer dress. I was at that time probably 25. I wish I had kept it. A beautiful green cotton dress.

Did you know Charles James, the subject of the current exhibition at the Costume Institute?
I did. I liked him a lot. We became good friends. Of course, he never made much money, but he was such a talent. I had one of his outfits once. Another designer whom I was really close to was Norman Norell. I liked him a lot. One time he ran into a terrible conflict on his show. After that he never let his secretary call me—he picked up the phone and called me himself to set his dates.

You’ve seen so much fashion over your sixty-plus years in the business. What stands out?
It’s interesting to see even today how Marc Jacobs changes each season and does this fabulous extravaganza. You ask yourself, How is he going to outdo himself again? And every single time he keeps doing it. As you know, Marc Jacobs once kept people waiting two hours, and everybody stayed, nobody left, and of course there were a lot of complaints the next day. And since then, he is the only designer who starts right at the appointed time of 8, and you’re out by 8:10. The first year he did that, I arrived at 8 and I couldn’t get in. Now, if he can do that, why can’t others do it?

Marc has always been until a couple of years ago on Monday night. Recently he’s changed to Thursday, but he never told us he was changing until a month before. Now it looks like he is [officially] changing. So, several designers want 8 p.m. on Monday. Last season Donna Karan took it and it worked out. Who’s going to get it this season remains to be seen.

And that decision is up to you?
Well, most likely. I thought Donna might want to come back and keep it, but so far she hasn’t. We’ll just wait and see. We’ll know in a couple of weeks.

How do you keep it all straight?
We have grown from, let’s say, one hundred shows a year—or fifty shows a season, which was the case in the forties—to this past season, in February, we had about four hundred, which is really huge and too many. But what are you going to do? I can’t tell you as a young designer you can’t show. That’s when I’ll try to talk them into doing a presentation.

So you don’t think there should be a barrier to entry, some sort of approval process?
How can you tell a young designer, “You can’t do it”? Sometimes I’ll tell a designer to wait until next season when [they're] better known or selling more to stores, especially if they don’t have much money. Even to do a show at a small place, it costs so much money. I try to guide them, and very often they listen to me, but sometimes they don’t. My personal relationships are what kept the business going. I showed no prejudice.

No favorite designers?
No, absolutely not. I scheduled shows in the order in which they contacted me, that’s the way it was done. And I watched them grow. I knew Marc Jacobs before he had a partner, when he was carrying his clothes around in a suitcase. And Diane von Furstenberg, I met her over the phone. When she showed her clothes to [Vogue editor in chief] Diana Vreeland, she called me from the hotel to say, “Diana [Vreeland] walked out and said, ‘Beautiful, these are great,’” and Diane [von Furstenberg] turned to the secretary and said, “What do I do now?” And she said, “Call Ruth Finley.” So she called me and remembers it very well. I suggested she contact editors and stores and take appointments—I think it was at the Hotel Gotham.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced over the years?
A problem I used to have with some people is their superstitions. One designer would never take a date with a four in it because that was a bad omen. Another designer, Arnold Scaasi, would not confirm his date until he consulted his numerologist, so I called him and said, “Let me have the number of your numerologist, I’ll solve this.” He refused. You just had to be patient. Another time, Oscar de la Renta was just so upset because he had booked a theater for a Monday night fashion show and found out that Bill Blass was showing that night. So he said, “Ruth, can you just call Bill and see what you can work out for me? I’ve already put my deposit down.” Bill, who was great to work with and whom I was friendly with, we went back and forth, I changed Bill’s date, and they both had successful shows and it worked out fine. Luckily, Bill Blass was not a difficult person. Anybody else might have been more of a problem.

Any examples when designers didn’t budge?
Oh, yes, I tried to change Tommy Hilfiger when he moved to 11 a.m. on Monday, knowing how it was going to affect Carolina Herrera’s models and makeup people and all that. Herrera has shown at 10 a.m. on Monday for at least twenty years. I offered him a couple of really good times, but no, they set themselves down, it was going to be 11. They’re there to stay. It’s much harder work today. Every season I say this is the worst season we’ve had, because it just gets worse all the time.

But you’ve never been tempted to retire?
No, not yet. Too young.

Photo: Neil Rasmus / BFAnyc.com 

Meet Ruth Finley, Psychiatrist/Ambassador To The Fashion Industry

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Last night, the Accessories Council paid tribute to Fashion Calendar founder Ruth Finley, and president Karen Giberson was there to induct Finley into its hall of fame. The industry doyenne—responsible, in large part, for getting the crush of editors, stylists, and buyers to the shows they need to see each fashion week—has been putting out her pink-sheeted bible for an unbelievable 65 years. To mark the occasion, we chatted with the scheduler-in-chief about the mania, the model problems, and the timely (!) Marc Jacobs.

Fashion week is bonkers. How do you keep it all straight?
Well, it’s not easy. We’re very well organized. We do speak personally to a lot of people. If we don’t like a time—if you book four o’clock on Monday—I’ll tell you you’re not going to get the top models because Marc Jacobs booked from three to nine.

What is the process like?
Fashion week isn’t the only thing we do. We publish every other week all year. There is a bridal season, a season where it is more fragrance and beauty products, and we work on that all year round. As far as fashion week is concerned, we start on that at least six months before and begin putting certain things down, working closely with IMG and Milk Studios. Milk already has about 30 presentations booked. We need to keep all [of] those straight. We still have three months.

Do you run into situations where people are stubborn and won’t budge?
Occasionally. Let’s assume you schedule a show and someone comes in on top of you. Obviously I will try to move the second person—if it’s a direct conflict with the same retailers and that kind of thing. If they don’t budge I go to the first person and they will often relent. Continue Reading “Meet Ruth Finley, Psychiatrist/Ambassador To The Fashion Industry” »