Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Milan Collections: Part two

Milan is all about advertising. Editors covering the shows make no bones about the fact that they are there purely to ‘support’ the companies who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in their publications each year. Believe me, there is no other justification for sitting through a MaxMara show. The big advertiser shows ones are still helmed by their eponymous designers, Mr. Armani and his perma-tan at Armani, Donatella and her perma-tan at Versace, Cavalli & his perma-tan at Roberto Cavalli, Stefano & Domenico & their perma-tans at Dolce & Gabbana etc etc…Non-Italian,un-perma-tanned designers barely get a look in: Pucci had Matthew Williamson (UK) who’s just been replaced by Peter Dundas (Norway), and hmmm, oh Jil Sander has the genius Belgian Raf Simons at the helm.

It’s not just editors, models & stylists who fly in for the shows. Editors are seated in country blocks, and each House flies in its key publicists from the major markets to look after their country's editors. (In reality this means sending flowers & gifts to key editors’ hotel rooms, hosting dinners, organizing re-see appointments, doing the seating assignments and then scanning each row to check on editor attendance; absences – construed by publicists as lack of ‘support’ by the magazine - are duly noted when planning advertising schedules). This is not a job I envy as nearly every editor inevitably hates her seat allocation and the publicist then gets it in the neck when editor X turns up to discover that her arch rival from Y mag is sitting two rows in front of her.

This system of publicists looking after their own countries works well for editors if bullying publicists in person for better seats is a priority, but presents a major drawback if they are planning to skip the show of a minor advertiser in order to, say find a loo, or actually eat a meal sitting down (two things that don’t fit into the 12 show and eight re-sees a day schedule)or, sshh, head out to stock up at the Marni Outlet store before it's pillaged by the Japanese editor contingent. No chance that the absence will be missed by the eagle-eyed publicist.

It also fails if, say, the US publicist is busy celebrity wrangling and a US editor in chief is unimpressed to discover her seat is in the second row as happened at the Versace SS09 show. Unfortunately involved, I grabbed the first girl in sight with a headset - who turned out to be the Spanish sector publicist who could not have cared less about helping her. Mind you, faced with a brace of foreign hot, cross editors I’d have the same reaction.