For those of you that read my blog, it is no secret that I have an issue with Bravo's Kell on Earth. My list of complaints starts with the lack of professionalism in the office and proliferation of same-named people and ends with the bigger truths the reality show unveils about our industry.
One thing that has become inextricable from fashion is an unconscionable amount of events with a creative edge. Chanel has opened large-scale exhibits in Central Park, Prada has developed and screened Japanese animated shorts and who can forget V magazine's bracelet-only Gaga-thon? Much like a new cola trying to separate itself from its competitors on the store shelf, many PR firms hawk their own brand of event magic as a unique calling card. Publicists convince clients that partnering with a variety of un-related brands/celebrities (often time an intentional synergy between represented clients) will ensure that their brand gets play.
In this past week's episode of Kell on Earth, clothing company, and Cutrone's client, Genetic Denim, showed us just how creative fashion can get by creating a denim Joshua Tree. A near-tears Cutrone praises the installation as beautiful and applauds the Creative Director's "humility" and ingenuity. (Spoiler alert: A unique and inspired Swarovski crystal rain room causes one light-sensitive male model to go into epileptic shock). I have been in the room when ideas like this are cooked up in the magic fashion cauldron. Carelessly, square-shaped celebrities are shoved into round-shaped brand holes and the synergy is touted as genius. Publicists then scour the media landscape for articles (blogs, tweets, buzz's?) mentioning said collaboration and booyakasha, Success!
However, how much is actually achieved by these sloppy and self-indulgent collaborations? Can a clothing line's sales benefit from these partnerships? Surely there are exceptions to the rule. Online art quarterly, Nomenus, continually matches up deserving designers with glorious art exhibitions. Editor in Chief and wunderkind, Erik Madigan Heck, even went so far as to take a Birds-themed collaboration with The Row and install ominous black crows in the brand's corner at Barney's New York. The result was cohesive brand messaging that brought the idea full circle and back to the consumers.
Similarly, Anglophiles everywhere will be thrilled by British designer Alice Temperley's newest partnership with photographer Adam Whitehead. Together they reinterpreted the works of the late photographer Norman Parkinson by shooting portraits of British style icons including Annie Lennox, Sophie Dahl and Jacquetta Wheeler. A fitting collaboration for a clothing designer whose creations are tactile and 3-D and a photographer who always saw himself as a craftsman. The detailed canvas images will be auctioned off this Spring with all proceeds going to Oxfam.
Bottom line: When an idea is truly creative it brings together mediums and artists and has a quantitative beneficial outcome for a brand. And when it is not, male models suffer.