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.”
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)