Image courtesy Catherine Bennett
Interview

Catherine Bennett

09.04.14

From earning her law degree at Georgetown to working in the mailroom at William Morris to directing Business Affairs at CFDA, Catherine Bennett has had done it all. Today, she is Senior Vice President of IMG Fashion Events and Properties, where she runs the big shows and still manages to see as many runway shows as she can. Based in New York, her reach extends to overseeing Mercedes Benz Fashion Week’s all over the world from New York to Australia to Istanbul. In less than two years she’s given Lincoln Center a major makeover, and added an off-site venue, and not to mention the cold Diet Cokes!

Interview

You’ve been at IMG for over a year now – how have you settled in?

The year has gone by fast, but so far everything is going very well. The team has been great. Over the past year, I have been able to travel, see our foreign events, and meet the teams that operate them. I have been working hard on putting together a solid growth plan for IMG Fashion.

What changes are you most proud to have implemented at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York?

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York had a completely different feel last February. We surveyed the designers and industry and worked really fast to implement changes for the following season. From the brand new show space, The Pavilion, to the completely re-done Lobby, it felt like a new event with a newfound energy.

Your role at IMG is quite different from the CFDA where the focus is on supporting emerging designers. What do you miss most about that organization?

I’m so fortunate that my role at IMG allows me to do that as well. We work with everyone from established brands to up and coming designers. We work closely with all of our designers to assess where they currently are in their business and where they want to go. The difference is that now we are better able to help designers expand into new markets, via our various events and relationships around the world.

How does IMG currently work with the CFDA? Are you involved with encouraging their designers to show at your venues?

We work very closely with the CFDA and have numerous weekly conversations with them. For some designers it makes sense to show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and for others it makes sense to show elsewhere. That is something that we absolutely work on with the CFDA and the designers.

How does IMG plan to evolve New York Fashion Week in the next few years? Are there plans in place past the Lincoln Center lease?

We are currently exploring all of our options. As with all of our events, we are always looking to evolve them and continue to offer designers the best possible show spaces and opportunities. We hope to be able to share more plans in the near future.

Do you travel to all the Mercedes-Benz fashion weeks?

I try to! But luckily we have a really great team and we are able to divide and conquer.

Do you anticipate more countries being added to the roster in the future?

We are always looking at new opportunities. There are many factors that go into launching a new event so it’s never a decision we take lightly. However, there are so many inspiring cities around the world with viable industries, so we always keep our eyes open.

What are you looking forward to this coming September in New York?

The designer shows, as always! New York is the most international fashion week on global fashion week circuit, with designers from every corner of the world who chose to make Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week the home for their collection debuts. I always look forward to seeing the designers work come to life and the excitement and energy of the runway.

How many shows do you attend each season?

I try to go to as many as possible!

Who are your favorite designers to wear?

I am a huge fan of Derek Lam, Carolina Herrera and so many others…and I’m obsessed with Jennifer Fisher jewelry these days!

If you could have a designer dinner for 6 and invite anyone (alive or dead) who would be on the guest list?

Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Esteban Cortazar, Tom Ford, Vivienne Westwood