Industry Insiders: Leading the People’s Revolution

Kelly Cutrone, the founder of People’s Revolution, embarked on her first public relations venture when she realized that fashion was the new rock ‘n’ roll. With the help of now-partners Robyn Berkley and Emily Bungert, People’s Revolution is a leading bi-coastal marketing and branding firm and a frontrunner in the fashion industry. The one-time affiliates of The Hills have their hands full for the fall ’09 collections — handing names such as: Yigal Azrouel, David Delfin, Buckler, Mara Hoffman, Nicholas K, Sergio Da Vila, Alexandre Herchcovitch, and Chado Ralph Rucci. The lightning-speed lifestyle required for the job has earned the firm a tough-as-nails reputation, but it occasionally takes a toll on the team. Upon arriving at the People’s SoHo office to sit down with BlackBook, Emily Bungert announced that her bi-annual Fashion Week ailment was already creeping in. “I’m losing my voice,” she said, “I lose my voice every Fashion Week. It’s just usually not two weeks before … it’s usually right in the middle or towards the end.” Read on for more from the power trio on the days leading up to the mayhem, nostalgia for Fashion Weeks past, and, without doubt, The Hills.

What’s this soon-to-be-legendary event that I’m hearing about? Kelly Cutrone: This year at Fashion Week, we’re doing three designers in one show. It’s the first time ever in the tents at Bryant Park that they’ve allowed one time slot for three different designers.

What’s the setup? KC: The setup is that there will be three of them, and they’re all going to have separate shows. So as one finale goes, and the lights will go down; there will be a sign change, and then the lights will come up, and the next designer with a music change will come out. It’s really fast. Robyn Berkley: All of the editors have to sit through all three shows. KC: The backstage will be crazy because there will be 80 models and three sets of hair and makeup.

Was it one invite? RB: No, three different invites.

How would you describe yourself in work mode? RB: Perfectionist, conscientious, innovative, and ambitious. KC: I’m brutally honest. In my role, I’m the leader.

Tell me some memorable Fashion Week stories. RB: One of our designers decided to change the number for the RSVP line that we had set up for him to his cell phone number. At the last minute. Emily Bungert: At the Sass and Bide show, when we were filming The Hills, the designer wouldn’t start the show until her friend — who was flying in from Australia — arrived. RB: Emily’s out front. I’m on the headset, and everyone is screaming at us to start the show. EB: The friend was flying in just to see the show from Australia, and the models are literally lined up, ready to start. The designer is just refusing to start, and we had to argue over the headset and decided that we had to start at that very second, and couldn’t hold the show anymore. Her friend didn’t end up getting to see it. RB: Another one for me is when we did the Heatherette show. They had to close the front of house, and there were still close to 1,000 people outside. Everyone was screaming. And then, we had never done production, and we had to call the show for Heatherette. I wasn’t there for the runthrough, so I get on the headset, and I’m like, “Okay, what’s the whole idea for the show?” All of a sudden, there are all these little fairy girls who are maybe ten, who are walking out with Amanda Lepore and there are dancers — and it was a full-on choreographed routine, and I had no idea. That was pretty dramatic. EB: One year at LA Fashion Week, we did three shows back to back in three hours, and it was all being filmed for The Hills. Andre Leon Talley was there floating around. He’d never been to LA Fashion Week before, and he sat backstage while we were calling the show. He stayed for our shows and sat in the fourth row — he never sits in the first row, he sits in the back. We weren’t completely sure why he was there.

Who’re your favorite clients? RB: I love Jeremy Scott’s shows. The energy there, the crowd, the music … Michel Gaubert does all of the music. It’s always really powerful. EB: Andrew Buckler has really good shows. He has really great models, so there are always a lot of cute boys floating around. That’s the fun thing about doing menswear every once in awhile. He loves to pull some little tricks, and he’s been known to have interesting things happening on the runway. One season, the theme was spaceships and aliens. It was in Bryant Park, and there, everything has to be done by the book, and you have to have insurance for everything. We get to the show that day, and backstage, there are these huge stilts. He didn’t tell us about it, but he hired a guy to be an alien, and the alien had to walk on six-foot stilts, and the stilts were taking up the entire backstage. The people at Bryant Park came up to us and were like, “You need insurance for these stilts.” And there was also a unicycle, and a man in drag was going to be riding it in a corset and a hat and a full face of makeup. But that’s like a typical thing that would happen to us. RB: We did a really good job for Yigal Azrouel when he did his first menswear presentation. He got an amazing response, and this season, he’s nominated for the GQ designer of the year award.

What are your fashion staples? RB: My new favorite jeans are the KSUBI Spray-On jeans, and anything Yigal Azrouel. I wear Chloe dresses. Lots of chain jewelry and big bangles. And the Alex and Ani Halo Necklace. They’re launching on ShopBop. I love Jo de Mer swimwear, and Camilla & Marc — who just launched their new swimwear collection. It’s the best thing I’ve seen in years. I only shop at one store in New York, called No.6. EB: I wear the Alternative Apparel Burnout Tee. We’re all obsessed with the Rag & Bone riding pants. RB: We wear black and white all the time, or else I wear Jeremy Scott.

Where are your places? KC: I go nowhere cool, first of all. Except for my clients’ places. I love Southside, Webster Hall. I love the Sunset Marquis hotel. I’m their publicist, and they’re my oldest client. We’ve been working together for 13 years. I love this hotel in Hermosa Beach called the Beach House, which nobody knows about. It’s the un-Malibu. It’s really beautiful and you can sleep on the second or third floor and have your door open and have the ocean rock you to sleep. I love this little, tiny restaurant on MacDougal street called Monte’s for Italian food. I am also known to pop into Little Italy and go to Angelos. I like it because the maitre’d treats fashion people like shit and is only nice to the mafia. He’s always like, “What you want?” He screams at me. And that, for some reason, I love. I love Savore, which is another unknown restaurant in SoHo, across the street from Mezzogiorno. And they have homemade foccacia. I go to Barolo once in awhile on West Broadway. I only go to places in a five-block radius. I love the Carlyle Hotel for the lobster sandwich, when I want to feel grown up. I love Sullivan Street Bakery. I like Omen, the Japanese restaurant. We love Lucky Strike. They’re like our living room. We love Sanctuary Tea. It stayed in business in a haunted space. Before they took it over, no one could stay in business there for more than six months. They give us free lattes during Fashion Week. RB: My best friend just opened up Charles. I love Nobu. I likeBar Pitti. I like Supper. I like Southside and Beatrice. I like Smith & Mills and Café Habana. I love the Vinegar Factory. We also like the backroom at Raoul’s. EB: La Esquina is my favorite restaurant. We like GoldBar. I love Café Gitane and Freemans. There’s a great restaurant in Williamsburg called Aurora. They opened one in Manhattan, but I like the one in Williamsburg better.

What is one thing that people may not know about you? EB: Well, I’m from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I don’t think that people would expect me to be from Minnesota. RB: I always wanted to be in the circus. I wanted to be a trapeze artist. EB: Something that people don’t know about Kelly Cutrone is that she’s a really talented ice skater. She used to compete when she was younger. We were ice skating with her in Syracuse, and we’re on this local ice rink all wearing all black. Kelly was showing off her moves in the middle of the ice rink, and all the younger girls were getting really jealous.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? KC: My guiltiest pleasure is re-dating my ex-boyfriends. Recycling. Eco-dating. And just so you know, I’m down to my last ex-boyfriend to re-date. So it’s a very interesting time as to what’s going to become of me now that I’ve re-dated everyone that I’ve previously dated. RB: I cut all of them out. Three months ago, I started this intensive cleanse program, and I stopped smoking, drinking, eating, and now, I go to bed really early. I also cut out sugar. But if I wasn’t doing that, they would be smoking, drinking and eating. EB: I love red wine and Arturo’s pizza. RB: I sometimes get really obsessive watching CSI, like 10 episodes at a time.

Next is People’s Revolution — the reality show? RB: We can’t really talk about it yet. It’ll be announced right around Fashion Week. Most likely it will start pretty soon … everyone wants to delve right into it. EB: It’s definitely happening though.

Was your decision to get involved in reality TV based on The Hills and The City? EB: Kelly’s had a big presence on both shows and has gained a huge fanbase. That started everything. It will be very different from those shows though. It’s going to show what goes on during Fashion Week and with our clients and within the company. It’s more about People’s Revolution itself. It’s funny … Kelly goes to Target and has people going, “Oh my god, that’s the lady from The Hills.” It’s really funny. We went to Syracuse, Kelly’s hometown, and we stopped at a restaurant, and these young girls were staring at her and she’s like, “Oh no, Hills fans.” Her strategy is that she goes up to them and says hello because otherwise they’ll just sit and stare.

Will this be a huge lifestyle change for you? EB: I just hate having to think about my hair and makeup and what I’m going to wear.

What are you doing tonight? RB: I am getting on a plane and going to Miami. I am going to dinner with the team from Longchamp. Maybe seeing ex-boyfriends. I don’t really recycle them, but I have my ongoing conquests that don’t go away. EB: I am working on my sore throat so I don’t get too sick before Fashion Week. Taking some Emergen-C. I try not to make plans until March.

Photo: Patrik Andersson

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