Big news on the Upper West Side yesterday: Not only did Mayor Bloomberg hold a presser at Lincoln Center for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and rename the 1 train “The Fashion Line” (c’mon, that’s cute), Fordham Law School saw the official launch of its Fashion Law Institute.
Suits, designers (Charles Nolan and Maria Cornejo among them), academics, and members of the press assembled in a conference room at Fordham Law’s 62nd Street location to hear the Institute’s director, Susan Scafidi, briefly explain its primary functions. The FLI will — among other things — educate new lawyers in the academic fashion-law discipline and offer pro bono legal counseling to designers in need. Interim dean of the law school Michael M. Martin presented remarks on behalf of Senator Chuck Schumer, who said in a statement, “The opening of the Fashion Law Institute will be a huge asset to this juggernaut industry and will be a tremendous resource for law students throughout the country.” And as cameras flashed and shuttered, Council of Fashion Designers of America president Diane Von Furstenberg announced that she will match the CFDA’s $50,000 contribution to the Institute. “As a designer who has been around for a long, long time, I can tell you that a lawyer who understands fashion is an incredibly valuable thing,” she said. Scafidi then handed Von Furstenberg a gavel and asked her to do the honor of officially “opening” the Institute. Von Furstenberg’s priceless response: “Should I hit you on the head?”
Though Schumer was not present, the bill he recently introduced in the Senate, the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act, was lauded as a significant step forward for the American fashion industry. “What’s really important is that this bill is the result of eighteen months of meetings between the CFDA and the American Apparel and Footwear Association, who opposed the original legislation that got introduced into the House,” CFDA executive director Steven Kolb told The Cut. “But they support this bill and that’s to the senator’s testament, that he said, ‘Look, the AAFA and CFDA have more in common than you have differences’ and brought us together … How can anybody object to a designer having the right to own their own creation?”