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Fashion Foundation

Judge Bios

Marylou Luther
Marylou Luther, editor of the International Fashion Syndicate, writes the award-winning Clotheslines column, a question-and-answer fashion advice feature read weekly by more than 5 million. In addition to her syndicated newspaper column, Ms. Luther is the creative director of The Fashion Group International, a non-profit organization for the dissemination of information on fashion, beauty and related fields. Her twice-yearly audio-visual overviews of the New York, London, Milan and Paris ready-to-wear shows are must-seeing/reading for industry leaders. Her coverage of the European collections appears in newspapers throughout the U.S.

The former fashion editor of The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Des Moines Register is biographied in “Who’s Who in America." She won the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Eugenia Sheppard award for fashion journalism, the Women in Communications award and, in 2004, the Accessories Council’s Marylou Luther Award for Fashion Journalism, which is given every year in her name. In 2008, she was awarded the French Ministry of Culture’s Chevalier award at a ceremony in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. Her essays have appeared in “The Rudi Gernreich Book", “Thierry Mugler: Fashion, Fetish, Fantasy", “The Color of Fashion", “Todd Oldham Without Boundaries" and “Yeohlee: Work." A book with Geoffrey Beene was published in September, 2005.

Ruth Finley
For more than 65 years, Ruth Finley has been a major force in the fashion industry. As the founder and publisher of Fashion Calendar, Ms. Finley is the master planner of all of New York's fashion events. Whether it's a seasonal opening, benefit gala, or a new designer's show, Ms. Finley is personally involved. She is the calming influence in an emotionally charged industry. She functions as traffic director, mother, confessor, psychiatrist, and referee in helping designers settle disputes and resolve potential date and model conflicts. Her publication, with its distinctive red cover and pink pages, can be found on the desk of virtually all industry executives, who rely on it daily as an information service and to schedule all fashion events. In addition to managing the demands of her own business, Ms. Finley participated actively in several charitable and professional organizations.

Born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, she moved to New York after graduating from Simmons College. She wrote for the New York Herald Tribune and worked in the window display department of Lord & Taylor before creating Fashion Calendar.

Julie Gilhart
Julie Gilhart is a veteran and pioneer in the fashion industry. She currently is a consultant, and has a variety of clients spanning from the digital space to nonprofits. Her interests are vast and cross several sectors, including how to link fashion with environmental and social responsibility. Previously, she was senior vice president, fashion director at Barneys New York for 18 years, where she was involved in creative, design, and business direction, and was responsible for discovering and nurturing new designers and businesses, including Alber Elbaz, Alexander Wang, Goyard, Helmut Lang, Nicolas Ghesquière, Olivier Theyskens, Proenza Schouler, Riccardo Tisci and many more. Ms. Gilhart began her career at Neiman Marcus before relocating to New York. She is a founder of Fashion Girls for Humanity, which aids in disaster relief (including Superstorm Sandy and the 2011 Japanese tsunami). She serves an ambassador for 1% For The Planet, and works with non-profit organizations such as Edible Schoolyard, NRDC and Waves for Water to mention a few.

Sally Singer
Sally Singer is the creative director for digital at Vogue Magazine, where she served previously for 11 years as the fashion/news/features director. Prior to returning to Vogue, Ms. Singer was the editor-in-chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine. She has held titles as fashion director and style director at New York Magazine and Elle, respectively.

Nicole Fischelis
From Paris’ Rue St. Honoré to New York’s famed 34th Street, Nicole Fischelis is one of fashion’s foremost faces. Joining Macy’s in November 2004 as vice president fashion director, Ms. Fischelis has brought a global perspective to America’s department store. In her role as group vice president/director of fashion and global forecasting, she works closely with the merchants in selecting merchandise for the company’s catalogues and translating the season’s trends to in-store special events, such as trunk shows and fashion concepts. In addition, she is the voice of the company in communicating what is hot, what is selling and what is next, as well as finding the right fashion mix for the Macy’s customer.

She began her career in the early eighties as a buyer for Gimbel Saks, a buying office that represented prestigious specialty stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Marshall Field’s, Neiman Marcus and Holt Renfrew. She then worked at Saks Fifth Avenue as vice president corporate fashion director for 10 years, before joining the venerable Italian label of Ferragamo as senior vice president of fashion worldwide in 1999.

Kim Hastreiter
Born and raised in New Jersey, Kim Hastreiter received her BFA from Nova Scotia School of Art and Design and her MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, Calif. In 1976 she moved to New York to become an artist. To pay the rent, she sold clothes at a Madison Avenue shop where she became known for the window displays she created. There she gained extensive knowledge about fashion and was fascinated with its connection to art. In 1984, Ms. Hastreiter (along with David Hershkovits) founded PAPER Magazine with $4,000. Twenty-nine years later, Ms. Hastreiter and Mr. Hershkovits still own, edit and publish PAPER which now has over 100,000 readers internationally. In 1995, Mr. Hershkovits and Ms. Hastreiter founded a digital site called which is part of a multimedia subsidiary of PAPER Communications. Ms. Hastreiter is not only the co-publisher of both the magazine and the site but also acts as fashion director and has written a monthly column on style and design for the past 13 years. Ms. Hastreiter has co-authored two books on style: “From Abfab to Zen" and “20 Years of Style: The World According to PAPER." Ms. Hastreiter also authored the book “Geoffrey Beene" about her late friend, the extraordinary designer, which was published in conjunction with the CFDA.

Ken Downing
Ken Downing is the senior vice president and fashion director for Neiman Marcus where he interprets, articulates and sets the fashion direction for the Neiman Marcus brand as well as serves as their international fashion ambassador. He provides oversight to the Company’s merchant and creative divisions, and is responsible for dictating the seasonal trends for Neiman Marcus stores and online businesses.

In his role as fashion director, Mr. Downing travels the globe to bring luxury and style to the Neiman Marcus customer. He is a constant fixture at New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks. Annually, he hosts more than 20 customer events within the 41 Neiman Marcus stores often alongside esteemed designers such as Stella McCartney, Derek Lam, Zac Posen, Donna Karan, Olivier Theyskens, Tory Burch, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, David Yurman, and Rachel Zoe. Established designers and new talent frequently tap Mr. Downing’s talents and insights to inform their brands and develop their collections. In recent seasons, he collaborated with Pop Sugar and Le Métier de Beaute on a color collection line inspired by the tones and colors he forecasts for the season. He has worked on partnerships and events with the fashion media elite, including Anna Wintor of Vogue, Glenda Bailey of Harper’s Bazaar, Hal Rubenstein of InStyle, Stellene Volandes of Town & Country Magazine, Joanna Coles of Cosmopolitan, and Stefano Tonchi and Karla Martinez of W Magazine.

Jay Bell
Born Escoe Bell, Jr. in Boston, Massachusetts, Jay Bell escaped to Philadelphia upon graduating from high school. Mr. Bell attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a degree in art history and finance. Following his heart to Singapore, Mr. Bell learned the tricks of high-end trade under the eagle-eyed watch of Christina Ong, the famously chic Singaporean retail/hotel tycoon. Working with Club 21 Singapore, Mr. Bell opened numerous designer boutiques in Southeast Asia and Australia during his seven-year stint overseas. He returned to New York in 1998 to work with Jil Sander America, first overseeing the growing men's business, then buying men's and women's wear for the Jil Sander U.S. boutiques. After two years on the wholesale side of the business, Mr. Bell joined the retail team at Barneys New York, and is currently the vice president, men's designer collections & men's contemporary sportswear.

Josh Peskowitz
Josh Peskowitz is the men’s fashion director at Bloomingdale’s, with a focus on tailored clothing, classic sportswear, designer collections, private label, shoes and accessories. Mr. Peskowitz travels around the globe in search of the newest trends and designers to bring to Bloomingdale’s and Before joining Bloomingdale’s, Mr. Peskowitz served as style director for Gilt Groupe, where he helped to launch Park & Bond. He first began his career in fashion in the editorial world with positions including style editor at and fashion editor at He also spent time in the fashion departments of Cargo Magazine, Esquire, Vibe, and The Fader, as well as contributing to The New York Times, GQ Style Germany and Vman.

Alex Badia
Alex Badia is the men’s fashion director at Women’s Wear Daily, the daily fashion bible, and of M Magazine, a luxury fashion and consumer publication. As men’s fashion director he produces and executes all fashion stories. His obsession with fashion leads to a constant search for the latest trends, fresh new talent and each season's perfect collection.

Mr. Badia started his career at DNR in 1999. In 2001 he left to work at O, the Oprah Magazine, and then returned to DNR a year later. In 2008, he became the head of men’s fashion at WWD. Originally from Barcelona, Spain, Mr. Badia earned his BBA from the European University in Paris and Geneva, and earned a Masters in Business Studies from London University. In 1996 he came to New York to study Buying and Merchandising at FIT, and never looked back.

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