DIVA LAS VEGAS: Hasty readers of Vogue Hommes International’s spring/summer issue may wonder why the edit well features a St. John ad portfolio. They should look again, because the 10-page piece is actually a fashion story intended to mimic the iconic St. John campaigns that have long featured Kelly Gray, daughter of the company’s founders and now co-chief executive officer and creative director of the firm herself.
This story first appeared in the March 7, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Vogue Hommes editor in chief Richard Buckley enlisted Neil Kirk to reproduce as closely as possible the mood of one of his campaign shoots for the company. But first Buckley had to convince Gray. He had initially pitched the idea in 2001 in a letter in which he referred to her as a “gay icon.” She declined. This time, he took a different approach. He wrote to Gray explaining that the magazine would do the story. While she was his first choice as model, he also had plans B and C in mind: Should she decline, he would either cast an actress to feign Gray in the pictures, or hold an open call in Los Angeles for women who think they look like her.
Guess what? Gray agreed. She also approached the shoot somewhat like one of her own, selecting the location, Las Vegas, and the clothes she would wear. Stylist Paul Mather chose the men’s clothes around Gray’s picks.
Why do St. John and Gray hold such fascination for Buckley? “It’s a funny representation — this powerful woman constantly surrounded by men, always at her feet,” he said. “Campy? In a way. But women relate to those ads. And they sell clothes.”
— Bridget Foley
US TV: Last month, word broke that Bonnie Fuller and Us Weekly were negotiating with E Entertainment Television to do a reality TV series based on the magazine’s deadline closings. Those discussions, sources said, are ongoing, but executives at Wenner are also exploring other television possibilities that might not result in the nervous breakdown of its diva in chief should she find herself perennially on camera and unable to deviate from the chipper, delightful person she is known to be.
According to sources, the company has been meeting with development company, Shine, which is run by Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elizabeth, among others. Ideas being floated around include creating a show out of the magazine’s fashion police section, but right now, sources said, the only real decision that’s been reached is that they have to keep the Bonnie Fuller buzz machine humming.
“The difference between being successful and really successful is in finding other avenues to extend the brand,” Wenner’s spokesman said Thursday when asked about the rumors. “We’re hot and we’re hip and we want to exploit it to the utmost. So we’re meeting with companies that specialize in getting stuff on network and cable. It’s why we’re meeting with them.”
— Jacob Bernstein
THE NEW YORKER VS. TIME; REMNICK VS. MENKES: New Yorker publisher David Carey has a question for readers of Time’s Style & Design issue: “What story really stood out for you?” Um, hold on a second. “Now contrast that with us,” referring to the magazine’s spring Style issue, out next week. The Time thing, he said, “ended up a bit of a pablum. That ain’t us.”
Long before Time, Us Weekly, Businessweek and everyone else decided to nakedly woo fashion advertising with special issues, supplements, spinoffs and parties to commemorate each, Tina Brown cooked up The New Yorker’s biannual Style issues — magnets for advertisers seeking the affluent. They fled in droves when David Remnick took over, posting a huge drop in ad pages in 1999, but now they’re back — next week’s issue is the largest of its kind, up 53 percent from last year.
The stories they’re planning include a droll report on the ultra-luxe Daslu department store in São Paulo (where Brazil’s counterparts of the Hilton sisters are shopgirls) and John Seabrook’s Valentine to The International Herald Tribune’s Suzy Menkes, which paints her as a sort Francophilic mad aunt. But Remnick, unlike Menkes, expects no geopolitical significance from the fashion world or his magazine’s dabblings in it (“sometimes you need dessert with the steak”).
“I think it was preposterous to expect them to do that,” he said. “Do you do something as vulgar as anti-terrorist chic? It’s absurd. I think The Onion can handle that.”
— Greg Lindsay
FURTHER EVIDENCE THAT FASHION FOLK ARE FREAKS: Raël, the leader of Clonaid, is a “confessed admirer of Versace and Karl Lagerfeld” and disdains the uniformity of suits and neckties, this week’s Men’s Fashions of the Times reports. “For all the history of humanity, men were wearing beautiful colors, elegant design…Suddenly, appeared the necktie and the two piece suit,” he told them. “OK, it was there for 10 years, it’s not so bad. But for now, almost more than one century, men are so ugly…When you wear the same clothing, then you become politically correct, sexually correct, religiously correct, and if I can say, fashionably correct. When you are politically correct, you don’t see by yourself, you conform. And that’s why fashion for me is not some superficial matter. Fashion has deep roots that shape the society.”
Still, that did little to convince the staffers at the magazine he was “one of them,” as they say. “It was the first shoot in memory where no one even touched the catering,” said deputy editor Horacio Silva. “The staff was too scared of having their DNA lifted off the food table and cloned.”
HATE THE FRENCH FOR FUN AND NEWSSTAND SALES: JFK Jr. never found it, but Felix Dennis knows there’s promotional gold in pop politics. Maxim ran an editor for president in 2000, mining the schtick for months, and now Stuff’s decided that ignorant Francophobia is the way to go with its “Statue of Liberty Fund.”
Considering that the French people raised the money to build the statue as a gift to America in 1876, Stuff has decided to raise $250,000 from its readers to pay back that psychological debt to the newly-vituperative country. WWD heard about the fund when it was “accidentally” cc’d on an e-mail conversation between Stuff’s Web staff and PR (very sneaky, guys). A spokesman called promptly to explain that Stuff’s site will shortly be set up to accept cash donations, and that the French government will eventually be handed a check and asked for a receipt stamped “PAID” for services rendered on the statue. What happens to the money when France inevitably declines? Free “freedom fries” for all, maybe?
WE [HEART] ART: Now that Art Cooper’s “retired” from GQ, you’d think he has plenty of time to read his mail, provided no one’s swiping and posting it on the Internet.
Richard Botto, publisher of the post-lad Razor magazine, sent a mash note last week to Cooper, which Gawker.com, the fashion/media gossip blog of the moment, somehow procured and then published a few gushy sentences from. To wit: “You can be a hero once more,” and, “I don’t care if you consult from a lounge chair in St Bart’s.”
A GQ spokeswoman said Cooper was very flattered, and passed along the message from Cooper that, “I’m there tomorrow if they will provide piña coladas.” But Botto said he hadn’t heard back. “Given the fact that this memo is everywhere, I’m wondering if it ever even got to him.”
It case it didn’t, Botto’s pitch is this: “If Condé Nast thinks his time has passed, I think he would have a lot to offer us. I would welcome him in a heartbeat…It’s sort of akin to the Mets bringing in Willie Mays in 1973. They brought him not because they expected he would hit 40 home runs, but because the 24-year-olds needed breaking in.” (Comparing this point in Cooper’s career arc to the broken-down era of Mays might not have been the most flattering idea.)
Botto added, “I wanted to let him know that not only does he have fans at Razor, he could have a defining role in the future of this magazine.”
Cooper may want Botto’s past defined for him first: Previous to Razor, Botto was an online porn pioneer whose business, RJB Telcom Inc., was sued by the Federal Trade Commission in 2000 for fraud (and later settled with no admission of wrongdoing). But then again, those piña coladas are pretty tasty.