Fashion Group International Of Dallas recently brought Marylou Luther, the creative director of Fashion Group International to North Texas for an intimate evening of story telling and Q&A with the iconic journalist. Moments before the doors opened for F.G.I. members I had the opportunity to sit down with the intriguing and kind guest of honor. For those who may not be familiar Marylou Luther has worked with fashion legends such as Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, Gianni Versace, Yves Saint Laurent and that’s just naming a few.
Luther grew up in Cambridge, Nebraska. The daughter of a farmer who owned a car dealership and grocery store. Luther went to journalism school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, then worked for the Lincoln Journal, “Where I wrote about weddings, engagements and moved my editor’s car every two hours so she wouldn’t get a ticket.” When she moved on to the Des Moines Register, she was assigned the style beat, even when she demurred, “I don’t know a thing about fashion.” “You’ll learn,” her editor said. Over the years Marylou went on to write for The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles times and today she is the editor of International fashion syndicate as well as national creative director for Fashion Group International.
C.C. – Marylou, can tell me about how you got involved with F.G.I. and became the national creative director?
M.L.L.- “It’s funny, this year it’s actually been 60 years. I joined when I lived in Chicago and was working for the Tribune. As creative director it’s my job to create the audio visuals twice a year and organize the participants, committee and panelist. We cover the shows (NYFW,MFW,PFW,LFW) then I write the script, do the narration and that takes quite a while.”
C.C.- Tonight you will be speaking about your top 10 favorite memories throughout your career. Could you tell me one that’s most memorable?
M.L.L. – “Probably the most memorable would be when Christian Dior came to Chicago Marshall Field’s had a reception for him then the next morning a show. I was so scared to death. He couldn’t have been more charming, open, funny, smiling. Then he died just a few months later. Shortly after a 21 yr old Yves Saint Laurent had just been named his successor. So I asked my boss if she could convince the people at the tribune to send me to Paris for the Christian Dior Show. She did! That was January 30th 1958, his very first collection and It was amazing but the audience was wary”
C.C.- If you think back to that show did you feel that electricity and sense the greatness it would become?
M.L.L. – “Oh yes, definitely.”
C.C. – Throughout your career have you developed any history with the city of Dallas?
M.L.L. – “YES! Kim Dawson was head of the apparel mart and in F.G.I. she asked me if I could help bring a famous designer to Dallas. I told her I would try. I got Hubert de Givenchy, he came and he loved it. THEN she asked for another and I said let me try Gianni Versace. He came and when he got off the plane there was a group of young men and women screaming, yelling for Gianni. Afterwards I told his P.R. “That was amazing all those people came out to meet Gianni”…..she said “Well…I hired them”I just thought that was so clever to make Gianni feel welcomed.”
C.C. – There has been a lot of conversation within the fashion industry right now about the current climate of retail and all these designers refusing to show new collections at New York Fashion Week. Do you feel this is a necessary change?
M.L.L. – “Paris and Milan have both decided to stick to the old ways showing spring in Sept/Oct and Fall in Jan/Feb. I would think it would make things so much more difficult for a buyer because they have to buy early. I feel the answer to all of this is what Betsy Johnson told the C.F.D.A. 10 years ago and Donna Karen was there speaking about buy now wear now and Betsy held up her hand and said something along the lines of “All of our clothes are mid weight outside of coats and swimwear”. Now with luxury designers having stores all over the world there is no such thing as a season. I think we could solve this just by making clothes season-less.”
C.C. – A lot of journalism enthusiasts love to read your work as a resource, what do you enjoy reading?
M.L.L. – “I love the N.Y. Times because they have David Brooks who is the farthest right person and Thomas Freedman is the farthest left person. I love reading both sides and I want to know what they’re each thinking. I think its great to have bloggers, its great to look at and funny but I don’t count on them. I count on Vanessa Friedman, Christina Binkley at the wall street journal and I adore Bridgett Foley at women’s wear daily. They are the people whose opinions I count on.”
C.C. – Throughout your career has there ever been a question you wanted to be asked but never were?
M.L.L. – “That is a great question….there isn’t one I can think of off the top of my head but I can tell you one I hate is “Are you still working?” It is just so offensive and derogatory.”
For more information on how you can get involved as well as more information on future events with Fashion Group International click here.