NEW YORK — A year after Marty Staff went missing from his post as chief executive officer of Hugo Boss North America, he’s been found at Penthouse magazine, of all places.
Staff has joined the pornographic magazine founded by Bob Guccione Sr. as chief executive of its licensing subsidiary, PH Brand Management LLC. The task of rehabilitating the Penthouse name — which is one of the most recognized in the world — will fall on his shoulders. And the fate of the company might as well. Penthouse and its parent, General Media, said in its most recent annual report that its strategy to climb out from under its crushing debt of more than $43 million depends in large part on licensing.
“The turn-on for me,” said Staff, in an unintentional double entendre, “is that the quality of the name is, at the current moment, more valuable than the business.” At least that’s what the licensees are hoping. One of them will open the fifth of its Penthouse Gentlemen’s Clubs in New York next week, joining similar upscale clubs in Texas and South Carolina.
“I think the short-term strategy is to look at the quality of the brand and make the core brand everything we want it to be, and then expand into apparel,” said Staff. “I think that we have a burgeoning club network, and that’s the easy pickings.”
Next up: “women’s underwear and lingerie, leather goods and other kinds of accessories,” Staff said. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t do a jeans line.”
He’ll also have a mandate to throw more of the kind of parties that made him famous at Hugo Boss, where he oversaw its showroom-cum-nightclub in Chelsea and regularly held parties in its Fifth Avenue store.
But Staff will have to move quickly. General Media’s revenues have declined in each of the past three years, and were down 14 percent to $53.8 million in 2002. Despite turning a net profit of $1.6 million last year, Penthouse faces a perennial cash crisis because of its debt. Thanks to several decades worth of bad business decisions, General Media must repay at least $6.5 million in debt this year, and $35.3 million next year. General Media’s annual report listed the company’s assets as being worth just $15.5 million at the end of 2002.“We do have our work cut out for us,” admitted Staff, “but there are lots of great brands that have lost their luster for a while. Since my background is solely in apparel, I look at what Rose Marie Bravo has done at Burberry and Tom Ford at Gucci. I’m not comparing this business to theirs, but I do think they’re role models.”
Staff left Hugo Boss under a cloud in June 2002 after accounting irregularities and inventory discrepancies came to light, prompting a $10.8 million lawsuit and an internal audit by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Staff was never accused of any wrongdoing, but Hugo Boss never officially said he was in the clear, either. “My relationship with Hugo Boss was settled months and months ago,” said Staff on Wednesday. “For me, it was a great work experience.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast