CALENDAR GIRL – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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The documentary Calendar Girl isn’t about pin-ups or models. Instead, it focuses on the life of Ruth Finley, who changed the fashion world as we knew it just by creating a time table for American designers to show off their haute-couture wares at Fashion Week in New York City. For more than seven decades, Ruth Finley held the reigns to a calendar that scheduled every fashion event in New York City each year. She might have been petite, but Finley was a big deal when it came to making sure that designers were given an assigned space on the annual program.

That may not seem like such a big deal, but someone had to make sure each clothes maker was scheduled a slot to show their wares on the runway. “They talk today about the disruptors, in the economy, like an iPhone, or Uber, or all of these major disruptors, and the Elon Musks of the world,” shares Edie Weiner, President and CEO of the Future Hunters. “But in her day, Ruth was a major disruptor.” She also became a widow at age 39 while raising three young sons, even finding time to take her eldest to batting practice in Central Park. She also had the grace to deal with some rather high-strung designers, even if she was multi-tasking by making a tuna sandwich while on the telephone with a client.

Her destiny in the American fashion industry began in the 1940s, when Europe was mainly focused on the World War II. Finley took advantage to connect to high-end fashion houses in New York, which turned into a design hub. The doc’s director Christian D. Brunn crams in such Big Apple notables as Ralph Lauren, Diane Von Furstenberg, Betsey Johnson, Donna Karan, Halston, Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Ralph Rucci, Stan Herman, Fern Mallis, Marylou Luther, and Steven Kolb and far more on screen. The fashion press also relied on Finley’s red calendar when Fashion Week became a regular event. Members of the press received invitations to private shows and presentations from department stores, manufacturers, designers, and more.

But what could a magazine editor to do if two major show’s fell on the same day? Enter Ruth Finley’s Fashion Calendar in 1945. Unlike the Parisian shows, the U.S. Fashion Calendar was wholly democratic. That meant any designer who hoped to show during Fashion Week (then known as Press Week) needed simply to give Ruth a ring and call to reserve a date and time. For 70 years, Finley operated her business — plotting out the week, printing and distributing schedules in neat red booklets.

Finley operated her business just so—plotting out the week, printing and distributing schedules in neat red booklets before the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) acquired the calendar. A behind-the-scenes matriarch of American fashion, Finley remained more or less unacclaimed until the CFDA gave her a Board of Directors’ Tribute in 2014. Sadly, Finley would die at the age of 98 in August of 2018. If anything, she had a satisfying and wonderful life, both as a successful business woman and as a female entrepreneur who saw a need and managed to rise to the occasion for the greater good of all.

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.