The latest issue of troubled, fashiony-business magazine Portfolio takes a long walk through the empire of Francois-Henri Pinault, baby-daddy to Salma Hayek, famed ouster of former Gucci chief Tom Ford, and owner of pretty much all luxury brands that weren't already owned by LVMH. Because Portfolio is (supposedly) a business magazine it stops in first with the company's reliable profit-makers, who turn out to be understated types who eschew the Tom Fordian egotism-celebfucking thing in favor of actually designing products. There is Gucci's Frida "I am not just the kind of person who wants to be the embodiment of the brand" Giannini, and Bottega Veneta's Thomas "He never talks about himself" Maier. And then over at Yves Saint Laurent, a $260 million business that needs to generate $400 million to break even, there's an starfucker named Valerie Hermann:
'We have some really great numbers to show you,' Hermann tells Pinault, as her aide fires up a PowerPoint presentation. But what flashes up on the screen are not sales figures. Instead, these data chart the increase in paparazzi shots of celebrities—Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, Sienna Miller— carrying YSL handbags that were "placed" with them for free...'The really great thing,' Hermann continues, 'Is that the period between when we place the bag and the point at which they are photographed carrying it has shrunk from early 12 weeks to less than a month. It's a real breakthrough.'
Oh, for chrissakes.
Pinault takes a deep breath. 'Interesting," he says, pulling slightly at his lower lip, 'but do we track precisely what the effect of all this is on revenue? Do we benchmark the other brands? I mean, does it work at the same increments for Gucci and Dior? Do we have numbers?'
After a moment, she cocks her head and adopts a playful tone. 'You know how much I like it when you visit,' she tells him. 'But you always end up asking about profit and results. You really need to think of something else to discuss or I'm not going to invite you back.'
Anyway, it's a nice little moment, especially for a massively overbudgeted magazine helmed by someone like Joanne "Embodiment of the Conde Nast brand" Lipman just as it lets go of its workhorse, non-starfucking deputy. Gucci Unzipped [Portfolio]