Girl Calendar isn’t just an ode to Finley, it’s proof of the industry’s meteoric acceleration and its need to end the way things used to be. At the end of the movie, the year is 2014 and it’s not 20 shows a week, it’s more like 200. CFDA CEO Steven Kolb sneaks in and out of Girl Calendar explaining the need to push Fashion Calendar in the digital age; he sits next to Finley in the elegantly furnished CFDA’s USM Haller HQ, a stark contrast to his own desk full of papers and memorabilia. As Kolb speaks, he mimics a push to emphasize to Finley his intentions. Finley is naturally resistant to transition.
the Fashion Calendar the change of hand represented the digitization of the calendar with a more organized group of listed designers. In the 2010s, US labels were skipping New York in favor of Los Angeles and Paris and the all-digital live-streamed shows popular at the height of the pandemic are not seen in the film. The more agile CFDA can adapt to these changes; at the end of the film, much of Finley Fashion Calendar the processes were analog, done with pen, paper and white; index cards with schedule changes were stacked in a shoebox for record keeping.
Girl Calendar ends with Finley’s 95th birthday. His family gathered for a cake and candle party and Kolb is among the well-wishers singing happy birthday. Finley would pass three years later, but in the film’s final credits it is stated that the CFDA retains an element of rose in its design of the calendar, a nod to Finley.
Although during his life Finley hesitated to take Fashion Calendar in the digital world, she now has help. Since wrapping the documentary, Nudell has undertaken a massive digitization project; by 2023, she predicts, all calendars will be available to the public, free of charge.
“During the time we were filming, Ruth had donated her entire collection to the college’s Special Collections and Archives at the Gladys Marcus Library at FIT,” says Nudell, an adjunct professor at the college. “We visited and filmed the collection once it was donated and Ruth told me she really wanted it to be available to students and the public. That planted the seed.
In the spirit of Ruth’s Democratic Relations, the files will be available to everyone in an open source database. “We want users to be able to search for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ designers, women, immigrants and other underrepresented groups to extract as much information as possible from the huge amount of data,” says Nudell.
Bruun describes leafing through a copy of Fashion Calendar and to see “the constellation of designers that make up each season. One can experience and imagine how industry settings have shifted from seasonal department store shows in hotels or restaurants to increasingly larger venues such as Bryant Park and Lincoln Center,” he says. For historians and fashion lovers, it’s a gold mine.
From Tuesday, March 8, watch Girl Calendar here.
“The Ruth Finley Collection: Digitizing 70 Years of the Fashion Calendar” is supported by a “Hidden Collections” grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is expected to launch in 2023.