Thursday, September 14, 2006

Seat wars #2: The highs and lows of Karen Walker’s front rows

Yes and well some designers send out press releases describing their collections. And some send out press releases about the celebrities who were on hand to see the collections pony-walk past. Then there's Karen Walker, who sends out press releases detailing the minutiae of her seating arrangements.

Yesterday I received the following list from Walker's Sydney publicist, with nothing more than an email slug which announced it as "Highlights from front row and second row from Karen Walker's show in NYC".

I'll make an exception to my own general rule on these matters and make the PR industry happy by publishing the release verbatim.

Now, it's probably just a complete coincidence that this list followed hot on the heels of an item in the Herald's Stay In Touch column on Monday, which happened to mention that Walker had seated the Australian and New Zealand media in the second row at her show on Saturday.

Given what one would assume would be the considerable size of the Australian market to Walker's business - I mean she's only selling to the country's biggest retailer, Myer - and the importance of her home market to her profile, it seemed somewhat surprising at the time.

But what an insight this list provided to the machinations of the burgeoning Karen Walker empire. It also spurred me on to check out more KW information.

According to Walker's website, Australia is her largest market in terms of stockists numbers - 47.

Japan is her second biggest market, with 28 stockists - although given the vast size of the Japanese population (127million) and the nature of their shopping habits (they account for almost half of the world's luxury goods market) one could probably surmise that Japan is in fact Walker's biggest cash cow.

As tiny as it is, the New Zealand market is not to be sniffed at, with three of Walker's seven outlets there being in fact her own stores.

All of this compared to just 18 stockists in the US.

A couple of points.

Firstly, as we have to assume this "highlights" list embraces the flashiest names on Walker's RSVP list, just where did she seat the only two Japanese names? Where else? The second row! One of them billed as no less than the president of Japanese department store chain Mitsukoshi.

Secondly, Emma Forest may be nonplussed to see herself described by Walker as "The actress Indira Varma's Friend".

The demotion to the status of Indira Varma's handbag will no doubt also be of interest to the New Zealand government, which invests in New Zealand Fashion Week and which event spent a not inconsiderable sum two years ago flying Forrest in its VIP guest. At the time they billed Forrest as a trans-Atlantic Lit girl, and two-time novelist whose debut oeuvre was called, funnily enough, Namedropper. Was Forrest just making it all up for the junket?

Thirdly, the only direct representative of the New Zealand media was Annabel Davidson - a former journalist who told me she is currently working in PR in New York.

Davidson filed to Stacey Gregg's website, Runway Reporter, claiming - at least in Monday's newsletter - to have been seated in the front row.

Davidson was in fact seated a couple of seats up from me, in the second row, moving to the front row at one stage to fill an awkward gap which emerged when one of Walker's front row highlights failed to show because he/she had more pressing matters to attend to.

And finally, according to New York PR agency People's Revolution, which has been managing the bulk of this week's shows at Walker's off-schedule venue of choice, the Altman Building, that venue boasts a front row of 80.

So, with just 24 front row "highlights" named, just who were the 56 "lowlights" taking up the rest of the seats? And why couldn't, at the very least, the journo from Walker's hometown of Auckland and two very powerful reps from the Japanese market, get squeezed in in place of some of the lowlights?

We do look forward to the next instalment.

Karen Walker show, Saturday 9th September (source: Paul Maloney Fashion Agency)

Front Row

Aya T. Kanai - Seniro Fashion Editor of Nylon
Lauren Peden- Managing Editor of
Heidi Bivens- Freelance Stylist
Rayna Cummings- Juniro Fashion Market Editor of Saks Fifth Avenue
Marsha Posner- President of J.P. Associates
Elizabeth Sulcer- Fashion Director of BlackBook
Justin Theroux- Actor
Alessandra Balazs- Socialite
Venessa Lau- Writer for WWD
Victoria Adcock- Stylist / Creative Exchange Agency
Tim Blanks- Contributing Editor of
Maureen Dempsey- Fashion Features Writer for Marie Claire
Kate Lanphear- Senior Fashion and Style Editor of ELLE
Joann Pailey- Senior Market Editor of ELLE
Emma Forest- The actress Indira Varma's Friend
Indira Varma- Actress
Leven Rambin- Soap Star
Lee Carter- Founder of and Contributing Editor of V
George Epaminondas- Senior Fashion Features Editor of InStyle
Amri Leever- Market Editor of Cosmopolitan
Danica Lo- Fashion Writer of the NY Post
Suzanna Karotkin- Associate Market Editor of Vogue
Julia Topolski - Senior Fashion Editor - JANE
Cathy Horyn - NY Times

Second Row

Katherine Agger- Fashion Director of Cover Magazine
Joe Berean- Market Director of Nylon
Elizabeth Charles- Owner/Buyer of Elizabeth Charles
Marie Chaix- Associate Editor of Self Service
Susan Joy- Freelance Stylist (NY Times)
Milka Prica- Executive Fashion Editor of Madison
Rebecca Resnick- Senior Accessories Editor of TeenVogue
Tim Rush- Vice President of Public Relations for Bumble and Bumble
Glynis Traill-Nash- Fashion & Style Director of The Sun-Herald Australia
Eri Kurobe- NY Correspondent of Marie Claire Japan
Havana Lafitte- Contributing Fashion Editor for Teen Vogue
Amanda Miller- Junior Fashion Market Editor for Saks Fifth Avenue
Takao Toshikawa- President of Mitsukoshi (USA), Inc.
Lina Kutsovskaya- Art Director of Teen Vogue
Taira Sturvist- Vice President of J.P. Associates
Andi Teran- Writer for City Magazine
Jen Smith- Senior Fashion Editor of Lucky
Karolyn Angel- Shopping Editor of W
Christine Centenera- Market Editor of Harper's Bazaar Australia
Helane Crowell- Fashion News Contributor
Annabel Davidson- Reporter for
Jean Godfrey-June- Beauty Director of Lucky
Gina Kelly- Fashion Director of Seventeen
Roseanne Morrison- Fashion Director of The Doneger Group
Mark Vassallo- Contributing Fashion Editor of Harper's Bazaar Australia
Prue Lewington- NY POST Stylist
Joanna Rodgers- Market Editor of
Christina Turner- Accessories Director of Jane
Patty Huntington- Fashion Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald
Edward Jowdy- Freelance Stylist
Hisashi Kato- President of Mitsukoshi (Japan), LTD

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