Tue. May 24th, 2022


Subcultures create their own rules, and operate in ways mysterious to the outside eye. If you’re not part of the subculture, the nut-and-bolts of its machinations is obscured. Fashion Week happens to the outside eye as if by magic. If you live in New York, you know when it is (even if you’re not attending), and you know that the Bryant Park area is to be avoided if you don’t want to get bogged down in Fashion Week trucks and crowds and tents. “Calendar Girl,” then, is revelatory about the role Ruth Finley played in making sure Fashion Week ran smoothly. She was the one designers turned to first if they had issues with scheduling. Finley put together the schedule for all of the shows, many of which happen simultaneously. If you were an up-and-comer, you didn’t want your show to happen opposite Bill Blass’ show. Finley kept such things in mind. She would re-arrange things so everyone could have their moment to shine.

“Calendar Girl” features a veritable army of well-dressed talking heads, fashion editors, fashion legends, people like the late Bill Cunningham, and fashion designers (Carolina Herrera, Thom Browne, Nicole Miller, Tadashi Shoji, Betsey Johnson), all of whom speak of Finley’s influence and importance. The “talking head” format is a little monotonous, but in this particular case, it is essential. If you’re not in that world, it’s hard to understand how a mimeographed calendar could rise to such importance. The “talking heads” tell you about it from their own personal perspective. It’s like an oral history. This oral history style leads directly to the deeper themes: the world in “Calendar Girl” may be high-fashion, but it was a small world, a cozy world even, where personal relationships were everything. What do we lose when we lose that personal touch? Diane von Furstenberg said that when she was planning to debut a new collection, Ruth was the first person she’d call.

Ruth Finley always knew she wanted to have a career, setting her apart from her peers as well as societal expectations. Her father supported her in her goals, her mother not so much. Finley worked a couple of jobs after college, before landing a gig as a Girl Friday for the legendary fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert. This was the start. Finley watched the fashion season unfold, and witnessed the confused PR teams and press try to figure out how to cover what, and she realized the need for a centralized calendar, distributed to all. From the start, Finley refused advertising. The calendar was agnostic. It didn’t play favorites. The calendar did not “roll with the times,” and Finley was very slow to accept that she needed to move the calendar online. She worked off of a battered rolodex, and kept boxes of index cards laying around. As Fashion Week exploded into the tentacled-monstrosity of its current form, analog was just not going to cut it.

By admin