MEMO PAD

TOMMY ON TOMMY: “I don’t have a great instinct when it comes to women’s fashion. But I hire great people who do,” says Tommy Hilfiger, in next week’s cover story of New York magazine.
Written by Rene Chun, the article explores Hifiger’s difficulties the past year, including his failed marriage and how the company took a wrong design turn, as well as his thoughts on being a designer, The cover photo was taken by George Holz.
While he’s not as involved in the women’s design process, he says he sits with the men’s designers on a regular basis. “I’ll tell them I’d really like to see woolly fabrics or plaids and buffalo checks. I give them primitive sketches from time to time, showing them what I want to see.”
Describing the firm’s unsuccessful experimentation with trends, he says, “At one point, I told my people, ‘We have to be the first with trends.’ So we ran out and tried to do the coolest, most advanced clothes. We didn’t just do denim embroidery. We jeweled it. We studded it. We ramped it up. We really pushed the envelope because we thought our customer would respond. But the customer did not respond in a big way. And our business last year — men’s, women’s, juniors — suffered as a result.”
When the company decided to pull back on the logo and make it tiny, he says, “We became very insecure about being a red-white-and-blue logo brand. We thought we had to be much chicer, more in line with the Euro houses like Gucci and Prada. We were doing stretch and black. As a result of learning from our errors, we went back to our roots. Classics with a twist.”

FISHER TO REVLON: Catherine Fisher has been named senior vice president of corporate communications at Revlon, a new post. She reports to Jeffrey Nugent, president and chief executive officer. Most recently, Fisher spent six years at Tommy Hilfiger Corp., where she served as senior vice president of global communications.

DOUBLE DUTY: Stephen Meisel’s advertising shoots are getting extra mileage this season, doubling as editorial in two European magazines. The debut issue of Numero Homme features an eight-page spread titled “Room Service,” based on outtakes from the spring campaign for Versace. Editor in chief Babeth Djian said she used the photos because they were “beautiful” and offered “exclusively” for the issue, which also carries a double-page Versace ad in its early pages. Meanwhile, the style section of The Sunday Times of London ran a photo feature on Tom Ford’s debut collection for YSL using images straight from the Meisel campaign, but listing retail prices and stores that carry the items, as in regular editorial. Claudia Croft, style section fashion editor, defended the feature as “standard practice” at the paper, which has done similar spreads on Versace and Giorgio Armani. But she acknowledged that such features usually specify that the images come from ad campaigns.

STAR POWER: Patty Fox, author of two “Star Style” books and a former fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, was named fashion director for the 73rd Annual Academy Awards on March 25.

BUMP UP FOR BRENNER: Beth Brenner, publisher of Self, was named a vice president at Conde Nast’s publisher’s meeting this week.

COSMO BASH: Although “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing came down with a severe case of the flu and couldn’t fly to New York to receive Cosmo’s “Fun, Fearless Female” Award of the Year, her husband, Dan Zelman, took the red-eye from California to accept the honor on her behalf.
Zelman said his wife was “heartbroken” that she couldn’t be at Monday’s luncheon because it had been a dream of hers since she was a little girl to be on the cover of Cosmo — which came true in February — and she was extremely grateful. But the other designated “Fun Fearless Females” — Bo Derek, Vitamin C, Molly Sims, Helen Fielding, Ananda Lewis, Heather Headley and Kelly Wiglesworth — graciously accepted their awards.
“How would a tomboy like me be in Cosmo?” asked Wiglesworth, a runner-up on last year’s “Survivor.” She said her mother plopped the “Survivor” application in front of her and basically said, “Get there, and get off my couch.”
In accepting her award, Derek said, “2000 was a scary year for me. I got involved in a lot of scary projects, but it was a lot of fun This is a nice punctuation to a great year.” Derek told WWD that she launched a line of pet products called Bless the Beast two months ago, and has already sold 515 stores, including Petco. She’s been busy on other fronts, too. She’s about to pen a new book entitled, “Everything I Know About Men, I Learned from a Stallion.”

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