Friday, February 5, 2010

The Fashionable Party foul

Bottom line: Zac Posen (fashion designer) does not advertise in Harper's (fashion publication). He was advised neither he nor his collection would appear in the magazine as a non-advertiser unless he agreed to to pose in a Sesame Street-themed photo (memo to Harper's: not a great idea). Ah-hem. In any event, here you have the New York Times coverage of the party foul which ensued...

"It was late into the night last April 30, after a lavish dinner at La Grenouille honoring the 100th anniversary of Cartier, when Zac Posen, the precocious designer, took a seat next to Glenda Bailey, the editor of Harper’s Bazaar and the evening’s hostess.

Mr. Posen was upset about what he perceived to be a slight of his work in the magazine, and he surprised the editor — and those around her — with a confrontation. The designer, who confirmed the details of his complaint in a telephone interview this week, was offended that the magazine, which rarely featured his clothes, had asked him to appear in a fashion feature that paired designers with characters from “Sesame Street.”

He was supposed to stand next to the Count, the numerically inclined vampire (who happens to share the designer’s hairline and fondness for wearing capes).

“I didn’t want to model with the Count,” Mr. Posen said. “She said that was the only way my clothes could be in the magazine as a non-advertiser. I think she was surprised I wouldn’t take the part, but I stood my ground and I still do.”

In fashion, it is considered poor form to air one’s grievances in public, let alone at a party, and directly to an editor in chief; and yet Mr. Posen, in his meteoric career since founding his company in 2001, around the time of his 21st birthday, has never allowed decorum to stand in the way of his tongue....

And, in a way, he had a point."

The Trials of a Former Wonderboy, Eric Wilson, for the New York Times

The quality of Zac Posen's work and his star are not in dispute.

As for his perceived error in approaching Glenda Bailey, which was big enough - inexplicably - to merit the above lengthy mention in the Times: How much face time does even a designer of Zac Posen's level get with an editor like Bailey otherwise?

It is unfortunate the issue came up at dinner but it was, in fact, a business dinner on the whole. It follows logic that more than just pleasantries may be exchanged even at large events. I stand with Zac in just dealing with the issue when he had a chance, though "confrontational" is not the desired tone of the conversation, optimally.

A very sucessful fashion agent I know says of difficult issues his agency has to bridge for clients, "We never confront. We never say no. We discuss."


LPC said...

I read this article too. My guess is that Zac, being young and probably resilient, felt he needed to say what he needed to say. We either get over that feeling in our careers. Or we never do:).


He's so young & impetuous we must forgive him for this. More importantly, please know how very difficult it is for designers of "anything" to stay in business through this hideous economy. I sight the following for you:

Buzz in Seventh Avenue showrooms is that Zac Posen and Gucci are about to have some major layoffs. As of Monday, Posen vice president of communications Karen Duffy’s position was officially “eliminated”; it is now being handled by Zac’s mom, Susan, and Alexandra Smith, long-time director of public relations and celebrity.

While a rep for Posen had “no comment,” an industry insider dishes that more layoffs are “pending” at the Laight St. offices — a result of the tough times designers are having in New York.

“Zac is doing everything to be smart about his business,” the source says, “but it just may not be enough.”

“It’s just a tough time for designers,” the source continues, “especially for a middle-line label like Zac. Shoppers aren’t spending like they used to. And celebrity clients make for powerful marketing, but you can’t base a business on it.”

Perhaps this is the reason he designed a line for Target. Of course, the obvious thing is that magazines run off ad sales. It's hard out there.

Read more:

Your post is beautiful. Marsha

twentyinsix said...

Mon dieu. I wonder if it was the Count that was the issue or if it was the whole concept.