The Grandfather of Fashion Week: Stan Herman
You probably wouldn’t be able to put a face to the name Stan Herman, or even put a finger on his accomplishments; however, sitting in his quaint studio overlooking Bryant Park in New York City, he would be sure to blow you away.
An over 80 year old, five foot nothing, inquisitive man sits on a stool in a black cashmere sweater with his arms crossed, twisting his black patent leather shoes around the rungs. Beautiful sketches clutter his desk and fill his trash can. A large, bright, abstract painting consumes the wall behind him. Large windows fill the space with bright sun and illuminate the creative chaos that he calls his studio. Things are random, but you can tell he likes it that way. His assistant designer, Michael, sits in the corner at a small desk behind racks of clothing, focusing on answering emails and providing the wind beneath Stan’s wings.
Then he giggles - his wrinkles tying in knots around his eyes and his fingertips covering his mouth - and begins his story. Looking at each girl intently, he asks the simple question – “Who do you want to be?”
He gives advice and tells romantic tales of the NYC garment district in the early 50s. He explains what it was like to be the president of The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) for 16 years and how he brought people on the board like Oscar De La Renta, Ralph Lauren, and Anna Wintour. He explains how he came up with the idea for fashion shows and produced the first ever Fashion week in Bryant Park, right outside his studio’s windows. From being one of the first ever American fashion designers to designing ball gowns to the first iconic McDonalds uniform, and now designing for his own QVC line, Stan Herman has lots of wisdom to share.
Amidst all the stories and years of experience here’s what Stan suggests:
Study History// He ensures that history will always be relevant. In order to go anywhere, you must know where you came from and how you got to the present moment. “Culture feeds culture, you must know your past and historical context. Find inspiration in the greats before you.”
Be serious// Take everything you do seriously, and be prepared to be hit really hard. “It’s not all glamour and gold, the fashion industry is hard, it’s brutal.”
Don’t get frustrated// “Always stick with it,” he says, “get things under your bones and remember, you are never better than your boss.” “The more time you spend, the better you will be.”
Be Honest// Do honest work if you want to actually get ahead and stay there.
Learn How to Articulate// Communication is key in the fashion industry and in the world. “Know your ideas but more importantly, know how to share them.”
Be interested in Life// Stay aware. “Get a subscription to the NY Times ASAP.” Don’t stay stuck in your industry, learn about the world you live in to make your industry better. “Life is exciting, find a passion for it.”
Inspiration is here, be 3D// “Have depth, have your own ideas, stay open to the possibility of inspiration being anywhere.”
Stan Herman, the true grandfather of the fashion industry, may not be well known by the present generation, but through his incredible experience he has lots of advice to share.