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Springtime For Galliano

The Producers

The fashion industry isn’t exactly known for its high ideals. It is an industry that maintains its mystique with a finely orchestrated and rarified air of exclusivity. It is an intricate web of people and professions with a handful of uniquely talented people. At the very center of the web are the design houses. There is usually one person (perhaps with the same name as the label) at the core of the house and hundreds if not thousands surrounding him/her. The work is done by; designers, merchandisers, buyers, sewers, fitters, publicists, and so on and so on. The larger web of the fashion industry consists of media, models, hair & make-up technicians, event planners…and so on and so on. It is a vast industry that’s profitability is dependent upon the marketability of those few at the center of the web.

If the (buying) public doesn’t believe in the unique fabulousness of a designer or brand the brand fails. Nobody needs a designer garment. Unless you are a collector (of which there are very few) a high priced item is not an investment, in fact it is most likely a seasonal item. What the industry relies on is the profitability of its glamour. Consumers are not buying an expensive shirt they are buying a (insert designer name.) The result is an entire industry predicated on being cool. In every area of the fashion world people are vying to be the coolest kid in the class. And just like high school, the pursuit doesn’t bring out the best in people.

Models engage in some dark behavior, as do the people who hire them. Media can make or break careers and often do. This power can result in some unattractive goings on (young have been eaten.) The media are of course the most closely aligned with designers & labels. They’re the head cheerleader and the quarterback if you will. Together they are a beacon of popularity and power. Intricate and unseemly relationships are forged and maintained and all their minions profit from the alliance. And at times the alliance can be wholly unholy.

When those in a position (they have carefully cultivated) of power defend, support and protect a man convicted of anti-Semitic and racial remarks no one should be all that surprised. That so many people have had a hand in aiding and abetting Mr. Galliano is a bit of a surprise however. In 2011 when the news broke and a video was produced of Galliano’s vitriolic tirade, it was not surprising when Natalie Portman spoke out and dropped out of a Dior campaign. It was not surprising when Dior let Galliano then go. It wasn’t surprising when a stylist (aka professional shopper) known for her work in a Candace Bushnell franchise, rallied to Mr. Galliano’s defense comparing his actions to that of Mel Brooks. (The surprise would’ve been if she had said anything less outrageous.) In the two years since Galliano’s exposure Oscar de la Renta and Anna Wintour (and their followers) have been quietly and clandestinely grooming him for his comeback. It is reported that Ms. Wintour secured a mysterious position for Galliano with de la Renta. Together they have created a precise scenario designed to remind people of Galliano’s talent while keeping their hands technically clean. Galliano has no official title, but the (media created) buzz is that he was behind the Fall 2013 line.

People make mistakes and should not lose their entire lives because of a drunken outburst. But Mr. Galliano still denies just about everything and has yet to apologize publicly. It is unlikely that the tirade wasn’t a reflection of his true feelings. People rarely do anything drunk that they didn’t wish they could do sober. A person should be allowed to have their thoughts and feelings; as long as they’re kept private. If a camera had not captured the ugliness most people would never know, but there’s no unringing that bell. Instead what we have is an ousted and shamed designer who is having his popularity secretly rehabilitated by the head cheerleader and the quarterback.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2013 in Cultural Critique, Media/Marketing

 

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Who Wants To Be A Producer?

When they offered tickets to Hugh Jackman’s staged concert at $250, I was concerned.  When they raised the price to $350 I felt a spell coming on.  I cast no dispersions on Mr. Jackman.  I have seen him perform live (at the Tony awards) and he is a gem.  I am also a believer in a free economy and can often be spotted muttering; “people will buy whatever you sell them.”  Yet, there is something about the pricing of these tickets that is disturbing me beyond all reason.

I am not an economist (to such an extent, I hear only white noise when people discuss long-term investments,) but I feel in my bones, that there is something “off” about a $350 ticket to a performance of anything.  I will defend Mr. Jackman’s producers’ right to charge whatever people will pay, but I have trepidation.  I’m worried about what this will (continue to) lead to.

For decades, people have paid extraordinary sums to attend concerts.  Even un-scalped tickets have been in the triple digits for quite some time.  I’ve long suspected it is due to the rarity of seeing what you’ve been hearing.  In that vein, Mr. Jackman’s ticket pricing is almost normative, however I’m willing to wager that his audience is thinking; “Broadway show” not “Concert.”  Therein lies the concern.  If in fact we are creating/supporting a theatre audience who will pay $350 for a concert, is this helping or hurting Broadway?

How do we support a rich creative process for producing new theatrical works of art in a world in which a producer can charge $350 for a concert on Broadway?  In 1961 a ticket to see Judy Garland concert (a comparison, no doubt The Boy From Oz would appreciate) was $7.00.  In 1961 the average Broadway theatre ticket was between $5.00 and $9.00.  I don’t pretend that this 1:1 ratio does or should still exist.  I would however, urge us to detect a trend in the amount of offerings (and pricing) of 1961 Broadway and that of 2011.

When jukebox, comic book and made-from-t.v.-or-film musicals, are bringing in millions, is there still room for new book musicals?  Do they even belong on the main-stage any longer?  Every couple of years we are graced with an inspiring wonderful new musical.  The Light In The Piazza (2005,) Spring Awakening (2006) and Passing Strange (2008) come to mind as shocking in their originality and magic.  These shows bubbled up like a tree growing in Brooklyn; defying all odds.  If you are a producer how much are you willing to risk?  A million dollars invested in a Hugh Jackman show or a jukebox musical cast with contest winners will guarantee a healthy return and perhaps a step onto the stage at the Tony awards.  Isn’t that prospect a little more enticing than ponying up a million dollars for something which artistically makes one’s heart sing, but comes with no prospect of a $350 ticket?  Where does this leave/lead us?

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Theatre

 

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