Interview with Lily Ravas
by Rita Tamas
Lily Ravas is the CEO and Founder of the renowned international luxury management agency, Lily Ravas Brand Management. Based in New York, with a sister branch in London, Lily is a true global ambassador for high-end and luxury fashion brands.
Although I am lucky to know her personally, this time I was interviewing her on Zoom about how she sees the future of Fashion Weeks, and the challenges of the international luxury market in general.
Q: Lily, through your career, you worked and lived in London, Kuala Lumpur then New York. How did you end up here and what are your impressions?
I moved to London shortly after graduating from business school in Hungary where I am originally from. My dream was always to move to New York and work in the fashion business here eventually. The 5 years spent in London was a big learning experience with a lot of hurdles but also taught me a lot on how the fashion business is run and I also had the chance to ‘grow up’ professionally around the amazing creativity the city represents.
The opportunity to travel to Southeast Asia and live in Kuala Lumpur also came through connections we got in London. We were invited to present designers at a prestigious high-society gala that had high-profile guests and patrons such as world-famous shoe designer Jimmy Choo as well as members of Southeast Asian royal families. Over the 7 months I spent there, I worked on and participated in different leading projects with local embassies, introduced and launched our clients to leading Asian luxury department stores and shopping malls. We also launched two leading haute couture brands from the region for New York Fashion Week in the Pierre, one of New York’s top luxury hotels. It was also an amazing experience to be exposed to such a different culture there.
Shortly afterwards moving to New York was a dream come true though and moving my fashion consultancy firm to NYC was a big and exciting step to move forward. Since then, we have worked on some amazing projects and created a substantial amount of high-profile fashion events here. We have represented and launched more than 15 luxury and high-end labels at various high-profile New York.
Fashion Week showcases and engaged with leading industry VIPs. We also introduced brands to leading department stores such as Nordstrom. Some our clients have been featured in leading fashion.
Q: There was much debate about the future of the Fashion Week in general even before the current pandemic, and there is especially now. As a Fashion Week veteran both in LFW and NYFW, what is your opinion about this?
Besides running our own events, I started attending and covering London Fashion Week as press roughly 10 years ago and started travelling to NYFW 5 years ago or so before moving to the States. I was lucky enough to be invited to shows of Burberry, DKNY, Paul Costelloe, Belstaff, Ralph & Russo and Vivienne Westwood. These fashion weeks used to be amazing platform to showcase incredible creativity as well as a great platform to mingle and do business with fellow industry professionals. I know long before even Covid19 started that there have been discussions and initiatives to open these ‘industry only events’ to the public. I am personally a strong advocate of keeping the ‘mystery and glamour’ of these events by keeping them as what they are, dedicated to show the collections to selected press and buyers and industry VIPs. With social media being as it is, customers can always access to see these collections online. And all the brands are having specific shopping events for their customers. I also believe that in a post Covid world we can go back to our roots. Just think about a Chanel or Dior salon presentation from the past. We might not need thousands of guests at a runway show, maybe 100 guests are enough, if it is the right crowd.
Q: You are originally from Hungary. How do you see the position of Hungarian fashion designers on the world scale, and how can you fit them in the New York market?
I am in a unique position that I started my fashion career in London and I started to get to know the Hungarian fashion scene ‘from abroad’. Over the years I also worked with many Hungarian labels and helped them showcase internationally. I believe there are a lot of talents coming from Hungary that can achieve great international success. The main obstacle I see is the understanding of the finances and dedication international market expansion requires. Few years ago I also worked as an international manager of a leading talent program that supported European brands, I managed to secure photoshoot for Elle magazine with our talents to be photographed with brands such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton. We also welcomed and hosted buyers of leading department stores such as Selfridges at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Central Europe.
Q: The pandemic has damaged the situation of many designers in the USA. As the restrictions are coming to an end finally, how do you think the brands bounce back? What strategy you suggest for them?
I believe the pandemic created an extraordinary situation for brands to truly look into their cores and restructure, or even restart if necessary. I believe that brands with a true market potential managed to come out of this even stronger than before pandemic. Over the last year I also feel very lucky that we were able to expand and work with great clients as well as still host small events through the year, of course following the health and safety guidelines.
Q: What are your plans for 2021?
We intend to continue to grow our business here in NYC and work with more and more great fashion and luxury labels. We also hope to be able to introduce international clients to the New York Fashion scene as well as being able to host larger scale fashion week live events once it is safe to do so.