Fashion’s Future

Last night’s “The Future of Fashion: A Panel Discussion on the Challenges Facing Young Designers Today” sponsored by the CFDA & GenArt may not have answered all the questions posed by those fledgling creators out there who were in attendance, but as moderator Bridget Foley put it, at least we “opened the dialogue”. The executive editor of WWD and W also acknowledged that “this is a very difficult time to be in the fashion business- but it was even before the war”, and there is a strong “likelihood of failure for young designers”.

Panelists included Sally Singer, fashion news/features director for Vogue, Julie Gilhart, vice president/fashion director for Barneys New York (and someone who is known for her strong support of young talent), Elizabeth Q. Pearce, an attorney specializing in fashion and related industries in Europe and America, and two fashion designers- Rebecca Taylor and Narciso Rodriguez, who provided one of the more interesting quotes of the evening. When discussing the importance of having a nurturing environment and mentor, he compared Donna Karan with Calvin Klein (two places he honed his skill early on). While the Donna Karan Company was an “organic, nurturing environment, and she a “great teacher”, Calvin was “so different” (he described it as a Nazi environment, so “businesslike” and rigid”). When Bridget asked when he felt “secure” as a designer, he admitted, “never” even though “good things are happening.”

Other subjects included the relationship of celebrity and the press on fashion design, the obsessive focus on trends (a question I brought up), and advice for those starting out.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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