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21 questions

Fashion Guru Fern Mallis Is Enemies With Cilantro

Fern Mallis

Name: Fern Mallis
Age: None of your business!
Neighborhood:
  Upper East Side
Occupation:  Fashion-Lifestyle-Business Consultant; Interview Host: “Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis” at 92Y (with tomorrow's installment featuring Donna Karan);  Radio Host: “Fashion Insiders with Fern Mallis” on SiriusXM; Appearing in Norah and Delia Ephron’s Off-Broadway production of Love, Loss and What I Wore, January 13–29.

Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Sorry, but can’t pin it down to one! Brendan Gill, Woody Allen, Mayor Koch, Matthew Modine, Andy Warhol, Sarah Jessica Parker, Donna Karan, David Letterman (but I think he lives in Connecticut), Bella Abzug, Robert De Niro, Jerry Seinfeld.

What's the best meal you've eaten in New York?
Impossible to answer: too many great meals in New York. Growing up it was a Nathan’s hot dog and french fries at the Coney Island flagship and a “Shore Dinner” at the old Lundy's in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Now it's dinner at Esca or ABC Kitchen, my special dinner club (three to four times a year) with nine friends at Peter Luger in Brooklyn; a Cobb Salad at Michael’s and crab cakes at The Four Seasons Grill Room ... and many more ...  

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job? 
Answer e-mails, have too many meetings — often at Nespresso or Bel Ami — and brainstorm brilliant ideas.  

What was your first job in New York? 
Summer job at Ohrbach's department store (it was on West 34th Street). I loved being in a retail environment. I did whatever anyone needed: helped buyers, probably ran for coffee, but I felt great. And I got paid (it was before "unpaid interns").  

What's the last thing you saw on Broadway?  Love, Loss and What I Wore last night! Prior to that, Follies.

Do you give money to panhandlers? 
Yes, sometimes. Used to be very fond of Eddie (I think that was his name) who always sat in his wheelchair in front of Viand coffee shop on 61st and Madison. He was quite chatty and always asked about my sisters, and what was going on; he was quite charming and likeable. I actually miss seeing him.

What's your drink? 
Margarita on the rocks, no salt.  

How often do you prepare your own meals? 
Not often enough — but I'm a good cook!  I make frittatas and salads and steamed littlenecks with delicious breadcrumbs and herbs. I like reading cookbooks and recipes and getting the gist, but not necessarily following them exactly.

What's your favorite medication? 
Ambien.  

What's hanging above your sofa? 
Nothing, my sofa is not against the wall. On side walls I have a great Donn Moulton fiberglass Red Apple.  

How much is too much to spend on a haircut? 
No limit if it looks great and makes you feel great.  

When's bedtime? 
Much too late — usually    between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.  

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square? 
The new, if it didn't have all the tables and chairs.

What do you think of Donald Trump? 
I love the Donald. He's one of the first developers who called me to help with spaces for Fashion Week when we were in a bind. He's a true New Yorker and good for business (but not politics).  

What do you hate most about living in New York? 
Alternate-side of the street parking and the completely baffling parking signs on the street.  

Who is your mortal enemy?  
Ouch ... not a who, a what:  CILANTRO.  

When's the last time you drove a car? 
Monday morning coming back from the East End.  

How has the Wall Street crash affected you? 
Same as everyone else: My "portfolio" is down.  

TimesPost, or  Daily News
All of the above, plus WWD.  

Where do you go to be alone? 
To my house on a magical lake. I have a home in Southampton, and try to get there as many weekends as I can.  

What makes someone a New Yorker? 
Their energy and ability to absorb, deal, and brush off all sorts of nonsense that we New Yorkers are continually confronted with. Also a NYer needs to know how to properly jaywalk, walk quickly on busy streets, and know when to cross regardless of what color the “light” is.

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Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images