Insiders | Jenne Lombardo, M.A.C. & Milk
— September 5, 2011 —
The Insiders is a column written by Kin Woo, presenting integral, but often hidden figures within the fashion industry
Jenne Lombardo Photography by Samantha CasolariTwo years ago, a seismic shift occurred at New York Fashion Week. A cavernous warren of studios in the Meatpacking District rose up to challenge the hegemony at the Lincoln Centre, in the process becoming the hottest place to show during Fashion Week. Credit 34-year old Midwesterner, Jenne Lombardo for such a risky venture that paid off. As Executive Director of Global Fashion, Talent and Special Events at M.A.C., she had already scored a massive coup by getting nascent superstar Lady Gaga to be a spokesperson for M.A.C. before she convinced the cosmetics giant to pair with famed photographic studio, Milk Studios to provide a space where designers could show for free during fashion week. In her role as director and curator of M.A.C. & Milk, she showcased a mix of fashion’s brightest hopes (Proenza Schouler, Band of Outsiders, Patrik Ervell) and rising stars (Altuzarra, Suno) with more emerging names added to the mix each season. Says Lombardo, “These people are my friends – we all look out for each other and support each other. It’s a community that we’ve created that embraces and commits to each other.” More than just an alternative show space, the move to Milk signalled the arrival of a new guard of designers. She agrees, “This is the new generation. This year at the CFDAs, it wasn’t about Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors, it was really about this new guard and this spirit they embody. They don’t have egos and it’s incredible to talk to and work with these people. One of my favourite moments at Fashion Week will always be going to Alex Wang’s show at Pier 94 and straight down the row is Joseph Altuzarra.”
As a working mother to three young kids, Lombardo undoubtedly strikes an imposing figure on the school run with her partially shaved head, numerous tattoos, towering Nicholas Kirkwood heels and penchant for mixing Rodarte with Gothic Pamela Love jewellery. She laughs, “I think when the moms see me, they are equally curious and scared! We both look at each other and we’re envious.” As for her secret to a successful work-life balance – “The answer is always evolving – I try my hardest. I’m very organised and very efficient and have an incredible team around me. The older I get, the more confident I get in my voice.” She’s equally confident in her signature punky look that takes equal inspiration in her musical icons of yesteryear (Courtney Love, Lady Miss Kier) and her close personal relationships with designers. “When designers send me something, I always have to take the piece and individualise it and make it specific to me. How can I make it a bit wrong? I don’t like things to be precious – I want them to be lived in and worn in and have my personality. I think people should take advantage of that. Fashion is about making mistakes too. It’s not about always getting it right.”
Newly appointed as Global Fashion Director of luxury hotel chain W, Lombardo is bringing the same commitment to supporting young designers with W's ongoing Fashion Next programme, whereby W will back six emerging designers (this season the chosen are Juan Carlos Obando, Nomia, Bibhu Mohapatra, Michael Angel, Rochambeau and Electric Feathers) to show their presentations at Lincoln Centre.
Meanwhile back at Milk Studios, there is a whole new team and partners for the coming season and Lombardo couldn’t be more enthused. “What we initially created has evolved in a beautiful way. We’re expanding beyond New York and we’re making a whole hearted commitment to the programme. I’m excited because we’ve started it and played it by ear but now we are being very strategic about its growth. I’m excited about growing up this season.” Her next destination? Paris bien sur. She confirms excitedly, “Paris is our next market. The Ministry of Culture is very supportive and we’re taking our time. Paris is something I’m looking forward to. It doesn’t get better than fashion week in Paris but there’s this whole new generation percolating – I want to be able to take all this talent and put them under one roof.”
See more of Insiders here and Menswear Insiders here.