Haute Ladies: Meet the Women Behind Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Now that the shows are winding down in Paris, (whew!) I am finally able to delve a little deeper into some behind the scenes action. Who is more exclusive than the ladies that make it all possible for New York Fashion Week to happen?

Meet Lisa Holladay and Annabel Tollman, the power women of Mercedes-Benz. The duo gave me the scoop on their favorite collections, how they prep for the main event, and what’s in store for one of the hautest brands around.

Lisa Holladay

How does Mercedes-Benz act as a cohesive sponsor to fashion week?

Lisa Holladay: Mercedes-Benz USA is the title sponsor of IMG Fashion events in New York and Miami.  The Mercedes-Benz brand has a natural affinity with the world of fashion. Fashion and luxury automobiles have many similarities including the desire for individualism and exclusivity in addition to the significant emotion surrounding the purchase of a high-end luxury brand. It’s the perfect backdrop to showcase new Mercedes-Benz vehicles because attendees place a high value on personal style and individualism.

What were the highlights of the VIP Lounge? (Terry Richardson?)

LH: We hosted several special guests in our Star Lounge this season, some highlights include:

  • Jessica Stam was on-site to share her experience working with famed photographer Terry Richardson to shoot the Mercedes-Benz International fashion key visual for Spring/Summer 2012
  • Beyonce
  • Leanne Rimes and Eddie Cibrian
  • Mandy Moore
  • Susan Sarandon

What do your preparations entail pre and post the season?

LH: Mercedes-Benz realizes many benefits as a result of our sponsorship and we begin to plan months in advance on all components.  This includes everything from determining who will be our “Mercedes-Benz Presents” designer to who we will work with to design the Star Lounge as well as what vehicles we will showcase and how we will create engagement throughout the week.

Post season we focus on cultivating the relationships we created during the week and before you know it, the next season is just around the corner!

Annabel Tollman: Pre-Fashion Week I try and get all my ducks in a row – the schedule, the wardrobe organised, some good breakfast items in my fridge, hair cut et cetera because I know once it kicks off, there isn’t time for anything else. Post Fashion Week I usually try to detox a bit – , do some bikram yoga with @OscarPRGirl, drink some green juices, sleep a lot and pick up all the clothes that are strewn around my apartment.

Annabel Tollman

Favorite Collections? Highlights?

LH: We are supportive of everyone that shows at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and this year, we provided emphasis on Derek Lam who was our “Mercedes-Benz Presents” designer for the spring 2012 season.  We worked together to create a special event for Fashion’s Night Out where Derek Lam and casting director James Scully, searched for the next “Crosby Girl’ at the Derek Lam store in honor or his latest collection 10 Crosby Derek Lam and the must have accessory of the season, the Mercedes-Benz 2012 C63 AMG Coupe.

AT: This season I loved Jason Wu (that’s most seasons), Marc Jacobs, Bibhu Mohapatra, Prabal Gurung, Badgley Mishka. Calvin Klein was really really great. That nude color is my favorite colour in the world. I also saw the Daphne Guinness exhibition at FIT which was wonderful – I didn’t realize that she likes what i call a “Jazz Hands” look as much as I do.

The real highlight for me though is seeing old friends that come into town – all the people I used to work with in London and catching up with them.

In regards to the Fashion Ranger event, what designers had “wild styles” for S/S 2012. What makes them stand apart from the herd?

AT:Oh we had such fun – we drove around in our Fashion Rangers mobile – a state of the art new Mercedes M class SUV resplendent with flashing lights and found all these New Yorkers with amazing style. We found Giraffe Heels, Gazelle Legs, Birds of Paradise and Wild Style in the Concrete Jungle!

It always seems so funny to me that people focus on trends. I’ll just go ahead and say it – I hate trends, and the fact that everybody else will be wearing something seems like the perfect reason not to. Anybody who is hailed as a fashion maverick or icon doesn’t dress according to trends. It’s this dancing to the beat of your own mariachi band that makes  you special. Be brave. Take a risk. Wear something outrageous, bizarre and fabulous – I guarantee your day will turn out all the better for it.

Will Mercedes-Benz continue to team with New York Fashion Week in the future?

LH: Mercedes-Benz title sponsorship of Fashion Week is a multi-year deal that began in 2007 and was renewed in 2010 and will continue through 2013.

It’s been a year since Fashion Week has moved to Lincoln Center, how does it measure up?

LH: “Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center has continued to build momentum since its inception a year ago.  The event continues to be the city’s single largest media event and offers some of the biggest names in fashion, as well as young and emerging talent. The scope and support of the event continues to evolve and with it comes new opportunities and benefits for those involved.

AT: It’s a very new and improved venue  – tons of space, places to hang out,  a very quick and efficient check-in system and even frozen yoghurt! I’m calling it Fashion Disney because it’s an experience not just a venue.

What exciting things can we expect from Mercedes Benz in 2012?

LH: In 2012, we will continue to support our tag the “Best or Nothing” by being involved with events like the PGA Championship, US Open, James Beard Foundation and few surprises on the horizon.