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2009 April 7

Show Me the £££

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(NEW YORK) It's no secret that fashion brands are agressively scaling back, taking measures like eschewing runway shows in favor of presentations, closing flagship stores and laying off critical staff. Event budgets have been hit hardest, given that private dinners and cocktail parties are easier to do without than, say, a production department or an executive assistant.

No wonder a few well-groomed eyebrows were raised last week when U.K. fast-fashion sensation Topshop celebrated the opening of its first freestanding boutique in the United States with a week-long blitz crammed with more celebrities, champagne and overall fanfare than New York has seen in months. PatrickMcMullan.com, the photo agency that captured all the action, lists nine total galleries featuring 885 photos of the record nine opening events. By The Daily's count, those include two shopping cocktail parties at the store, followed by two private dinners at Balthazar, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and an official after-party at The Box--which were attended by celebs and featured musical performances by Jennifer Hudson, Adele and Mark Ronson. How did these events impact Topshop's balance sheet? The Daily investigates.

First, consider the travel costs. Topshop scion Sir Phillip Green spent the week squired by none other than Kate Moss, a habitué of private jets, which can cost approximately $250,000 in rental fees, airport charges and crew services. (Her three-year contract with Topshop, signed in December 2008, is worth reportedly $6.1 million a year, excluding her company-related travel costs.) Even when travelling commercial, as the London-based Topshop brass surely did, the price is high. A Monday-through-Friday journey to New York, found on Expedia for the comparable dates of April 20-24, runs $3,709 per business-class seat. If only 10 staffers made the cross-country voyage, then the flight bill alone could amount to $40,000.

As for the celebrities? Simon Cowell and Emma Roberts were flown in from Los Angeles--presumably in business class, at the very least, which totals out at approximately $1,600 for the above-mentioned dates. Outfits, car services and (in certain cases) appearance fees are often required to draw locals like Blake Lively, Leigh Lezark, Zach Braff, Theodora Richards, Rosario Dawson, Debbie Harry and the usual smattering of socialites. A performance by Hudson is rumored to cost between $150,000-$250,000, while Adele commands a fee in the $70,000 range. Ronson, who performed with Jimmy Fallon at one of the private dinners, earns approximately $75,000 for a performance. Adele and Ronson were flown in from London, while Hudson and her entourage came from Chicago for the event. Additionally, several London designers were present, including Christopher Kane and Richard Nicoll. The latter was set up at the Soho Grand Hotel for nearly a week following the showing of his Fall collection in New York. 

The Topshop store on Broadway provided the venue for many events, but the brand also rented out Balthazar two nights in a row, which one events director estimates to cost at least $90,000 an evening. The Box, where an official after-party was held, charges around $75,000 for a complete shut-down and open bar. The cost of security and equipment will have easily amounted to $20,000. Even the cost of swag like customized Topshop tote bags and gift certificates ranging from $20 to $500 given to both locals and VIPs was significant.

And sandwiching Lady Tina Green between Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony for a photo opportunity rarely happens without strenuous effort or very good luck. Given that Lopez and Anthony are now spending most of their time on the West Coast, one assumes that a private jet was sent to fly the celebrity couple, their two children and half-dozen handlers to New York for the event. Estimating the total cost of the Lopez/Antony appearance is too dizzying to fathom.

The event organizers also merit compensation. KCD, the communications and production firm that handled the extravaganza, charges Topshop a monthly retainer that one in-the-know insider places at $10,000 to $15,000 for the months leading up to the event. Additionally, KCD could recoup a fee of $40,000 to $50,000 per dinner and cocktail party. The bills are still coming in, as are the insider estimates, but an early figure of $1.8 million dollars is on track, according to sources. At $40 each, Topshop would have sell, oh, about 45,000 of those of those halter tops.
ASHLEY BAKER & VALENTINE UHOVSKI




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