Fern Mallis: Nemo's Got Nothin' On That Time Hurricane Floyd Nearly Sunk McQueen

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fern-mallis Is there a little blizzard outside? Is it making you a little upset? Sorry, New Yorkers, but Fern Mallis is having none of it. The maven of Fashion Week, the lady who gave the tents their backbone, would like to remind you that, hey, this is the fashion capital of the United States and it is also prone to tempestuous weather, so buck up or get out. Or, at least, hear her tale about a hurricane that'd make Nemo's eight-to-ten inches (seriously, models wear shoes that high) quake in its snow boots.

We caught up with the doyenne of NYFW and former executive director of the CFDA to reminisce about all the times inclement weather threatened the shows. You think now is bad? Just listen to this...

You are the keeper of the flame in fashion history. Has there ever been a storm like this before?
"Yes, we’ve had many storms and many different horrible weather advisories through the years. I think the worst, in comparison, was Hurricane Floyd. Women’s Wear Daily actually ran an article that said Will Floyd Flatten Fern’s Tents? at Bryant Park. The winds and the hurricane – people were sitting in the tents during the day. There was a pole tent we had at that time in the park and you could see the whole thing moving. People were terrified, but we said, 'It’s supposed to move in the wind — that’s how tents are designed!' That was the season (spring '00) Alexander McQueen showed in New York, on a pier jutting out in the Hudson River, at night. We wound up canceling our shows after 10 o’clock in the morning because it was just too dangerous."

Did he show?
"He went on with his show at the Pier. People were terrified because there was water everywhere, plus he had water in the show and people doing all sorts of acrobatics. I didn’t go because we canceled all our shows and I couldn't be showing up at somebody else’s show. People thought the tents would wind up in Philadelphia."

So, we really have nothing to worry about compared to Floyd?
"No, I don’t think we do. You know, it’s going to be a mess and it’s going to be uncomfortable. I think people are more worried about what shoes they’re wearing and how they’re going to get through it, or if there’s enough taxis. It’s bad with people flying in and they can’t get in. There’s a lot of European and foreign press who are missing out, which is a shame. So, on the bright side, there may be more front row seats for people."

Hey, you never know!

Photo: Erik Pendzich/Rex USA