NEW YORK — Anthony Guccione has big plans — and he’s betting $60 million on them.
He’s hoping his vision of Fashion and Design Television (FAD TV) can have the same impact on the fashion industry that MTV had on the music industry.
Conceived as a 24-hour network dedicated to fashion, design and beauty, FAD TV will cast its spotlight on the designers, models and the entourage of hair and makeup artists that stoke the $100 billion-plus industry.
The network will be entertainment-driven and advertising-supported, with home shopping as a secondary source of revenue, said Guccione, whose father is the publisher of Penthouse magazine.
The cost of launching the network is estimated at $60 million, much of which will come from Guccione’s own pocket.
By positioning FAD TV primarily as an outlet for fashion news, Guccione, who has yet to find a cable channel for the broadcast, hopes to have designers cooperate on coverage and, once hooked, participate in the home shopping component.
While hard-pressed to name designers who have agreed to sell their merchandise on FAD TV, Guccione said several European designers have “pledged their full cooperation to the fashion programming.”
He said Romeo Gigli and Trussardi called to make sure “we would be covering their shows later this month.” FAD TV’s highlight video features an interview with Karl Lagerfeld and a fashion video for Versace men’s wear.
FAD TV’s program blocks will be devoted to coverage of the collections, interviews with designers and models. Roving “fashion jockeys” will go behind the scenes at parties, and there will also be programs on interior design, entertaining at home, holistic beauty, plastic surgery and art.
While FAD TV has already produced an impressive amount of footage, one of Guccione’s most immediate problems is access to cable distribution. He said he plans to get around that by selling programs to syndication or buying time outright on broadcast television.
Guccione said he wants FAD TV to be in 30 million homes within five years.
Guccione plans to sell six to eight minutes of advertising during each hour of programming. No doubt, he’s ambitious: He’s hoping that in five years FAD TV’s advertising revenues will exceed $100 million.
“We feel we will be the first to introduce a full-blown fashion entertainment network which offers purchasing opportunities,” Guccione said.
While he gave some credit to Cindy Crawford — the hot, new draw on MTV’s House of Style — and CNN’s veteran of the fashion trenches, Elsa Klensch, for raising fashion’s profile on the tube, he dismissed the former’s approach as superficial and the latter’s as stuffy.
He’s also got a bone to pick with home shopping as it’s known today.
“Home shopping is just incredibly tacky,” he said. “Without reversing the formula, I don’t care how upscale you go. You’re not going to sell products.
“Of all the categories of advertising, [fashion and beauty] are the most image-conscious and deep pocketed,” Guccione added. “Image is at the core of every problem or stigma involving home shopping today.”
Without discussing specifics, Howard K. Jacoby, executive vice president of FAD TV, said the sales pitch on the shows won’t be high pressure.
“Those who want to buy will be able to buy very easily,” he said. “Those who don’t want to buy won’t be hassled.
“Most, if not all of the fashion and beauty products will be available for sale,” Jacoby continued. “Selling some of the haute couture is not realistic. But the lower-priced designer apparel will be available, and all the accessories will be for sale.”
Guccione said he’ll use a network of fashion correspondents in major fashion centers around the world.
MTV is obviously the thinly veiled model for Guccione’s concept. Segments filmed on location in the U.S. and in Europe owe much to the music network’s style of quick cuts and moody lighting.
While music videos do sell music, it remains to be seen whether fashion videos will sell fashion. Still, Guccione sees fashion videos as a critical component of his network.
In Guccione’s vision of FAD TV, fashion and music will collide, opening doors to a myriad of business of opportunities.
Fashion models won’t appear in their boyfriends’ music videos as mere tokens of beauty; they’ll star in videos of their own.
After all, what are music videos if not catwalks? George Michael’s “Freedom” features the struts of Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell, while Karen Muldar and Evangelista preen in “Too Funky.”
“Bands don’t tour anymore; their videos do the touring,” Guccione said. “The same will happen in the fashion industry. Videos will replace the importance of collections.”
“Collections will primarily become a fashion show for the buyers,” Guccione continued. “In the future, every designer will have a video for his or her collection. I can easily see how Calvin Klein would go head-to-head with Donna Karan to produce the hottest video.”