December 3rd was a fabulous and inspiring day for me. I was invited to the High School of Fashion Industries. My role? PRINCIPAL FOR THE DAY. Here’s a rundown of my day:

Period 1

I arrived at HSFI, where I met Principal Daryl Blank. We stood in the school entrance at 8:30 a.m. and greeted the arriving students—all 1800 of them!! I was astounded and inspired to learn that Principal Blank performs this ritual every single morning.

Period 2

I made my way to room 419, where Ms. Selleck’s students were waiting to show me their window display ideas. Groups of students had created models of proposed holiday windows based on the iconic stores of NYC: Saks, Lord and Taylor, Tiffany, BG and, of course, Barneys. I was blown away by the creativity and verve!

Period 3

All the students—again, all 1800—gathered in the auditorium for a slide show of past Barneys windows. It was a great opportunity to show visuals and relay anecdotes from my 30-year tenure at Barneys. The favorite? The kids loved the Prince and Madonna windows from our original 17th street store.

Simon Doonan
Simon poses with an illustrated poster commemorating his stint as principal
Photographed by Justin Crawford, Courtesy of The Daily Front Row

Period 4

I met with a smaller group of very creative students, who were looking for advice and input about their career prospects. One particular student asked for ONE single piece of career-making, deal-breaking advice, to which I replied: “Always get to work ten minutes early.”

I simply cannot wait to go back!

Want to read more about Simon’s return to high school? See more over at The Daily Front Row, including the students’ take on Simon and his always-insightful advice. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for their daily newsletter for up-to-the-minute updates on the latest fashion industry insight.