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Edited by on September 28 2011 at 8:00 AM

Mac and Lester are The Hardy Gays – FashionIndie’s Queen Detectives; stumbling about solving crimes of fashion with nothing but our wits and impeccably-styled outfits. During New York Fashion Week, a feeling of perplexity and disappointment at the Mercedez-Benz Tents turned out to be a mystery that needed our particular attention.


A Hardy Gays Mystery: The Case of the Lackluster Tents

Sherry Lehmann Wine.  Arizona Iced Tea. Fiber One. No, these aren’t the contents of your grandmother’s kitchen cabinet. These are three of the big-name sponsors for New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the biggest and least important of the four major Fashion Weeks. But is New York’s continued dwindling in importance a direct result of the less than fabulous coterie of sponsors, or is it the other way around? And who’s to blame?

The Hardy Gays are on the case!

The main culprit is Milk Studios, whose latest incarnation as MilkMade has stolen much of the luster from Lincoln Center. But whereas they compete for sponsors, MilkMade usually draws smaller shows…however, the Marc Jacobses and the Ralph Laurens don’t show at the Tents either. Rather, they show offsite, effectively spitting in the faces of IMG Models and CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg, who dutifully shows at Lincoln Center each season.

Why not show a concerted effort to make NYFW a juggernaut of influence and taste rather than a discombobulated hydra sprawling all over Manhattan with each head unaware of what the other is doing?

The Tents at Bryant Park were home to New York Fashion Week for seventeen years and the move to Lincoln Center was a controversial one that left many fashion followers scratching their thinning scalps. Aside from being convenient, Bryant Park’s proximity to the Garment District earned it the distinction as the fashion industry’s backyard. But as Fashion Week grew bigger and more and more sponsors came on board — from Dunkin Donuts to McDonald’s — designers became more and more disenfranchised. And Bryant Park became more and more annoyed. Now, the Tents at Lincoln Center resemble a circus rather than a legitimate gathering of professionals and creatives.

Which brings us to Fern Mallis, the lady behind those seventeen halcyon years. She helped organize the move of NYFW from warehouses and studios all over the city to one central location, but with the Tents’ dissolution everything is scattered once again. Just last year Mallis evacuated her role as Senior Vice President of IMG to reportedly start her own consulting business. Interesting timing…

Perhaps she felt disillusioned over what she hath wrought. Perhaps she struck a deal with Bryant Park to kick fashion week out of its lush lawn. Perhaps she poisoned  major designers against her former lover, one Diane von Furstenberg to gain revenge for breaking her heart when she married Barry Diller, effectively ruining Fashion Week and leaving Fiber One as one of the few legitimate sponsors who would touch MBFW with a ten-foot pole!

Cue lightning flash and dramatic music.

Perhaps this is just speculation and hearsay. Perhaps we don’t really care because as far as Mac and I — and the bottle of vodka we’ve already opened to celebrate — Absence of Mallis: The Case of the Lackluster Tents is closed.

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Story by Lester Brathwaite

I was center square from 1969 to 1978, during which I perfected the art of the zing as well as a crippling cocaine addiction. Bea Arthur was responsible for both. @LesFabian lester at