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At Oscar Time, PR Stands for Panicked, Rattled

March 24, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

Much has been said about the roles played by stylists, fashion designers, and hair and makeup professionals during the Academy Awards frenzy, but what about the poor publicists?

During Oscar season, publicists have to rev into overdrive too, and if they don't make sure their clients--jewelers, accessory companies, makeup lines, etc.--get a piece of Sunday's Oscar action, they might lose the account come Monday.

Kelly Cutrone, who owns the PR firm People's Revolution, described publicists this week as "deer in the headlights meets speed freak."

"It's great to be able to say you have huge international clients like Thierry Mugler, who has locked in actress Rebecca Gayheart, [or] Bulgari and Vivienne Westwood," she said, "but at the end of the day you have to get the stuff on people."

Getting the clothes on the stars involves a lot of spade work--for designers and publicists. "L.A. is a hard market to break and people think they can just roll into town, set up a couture shopping mall in a five-star hotel and that's going to be enough. We try to explain to our clients that L.A. is fickle and it's important to cultivate relationships, so when awards season rolls around, you are not introducing yourself."

Cutrone said her lowest moment of the week came Wednesday as she walked down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and thought she saw Julianne Moore driving past. "I ran up to the window and . . . scared the hell out of the woman inside."

One of Cutrone's clients, feng shui master David Rainey, whose work for the new John Frieda salon is featured in April's Harper's Bazaar and Elle, thought Cutrone might need help from a higher power. So he arranged to have a rangoli (a traditional Indian sand painting) installed on the walkway in front of Cutrone's Melrose Avenue office to help attract "star power, abundance, protection and attraction." (Rainey executed a similar move for Donna Karan when her New York flagship store opened last year.)

"I think it's a great alternative to gift baskets and Illume candles," Cutrone said. "We should simply have temporary rangolis installed in front of celebrity hotel rooms!"


The designer dresses that will be worn on the red carpet Sunday will undoubtedly start trends (especially for prom dresses), but exact copies of the outfits are, for the most part, hard for mere mortals to come by.

But now the winner of American Movie Classics' online Oscar fashion sweepstakes will receive a replica of the award-night dress of her (or, let's face it, his) choice. No place to wear the fabulous gown? The winner and a guest will be flown to New York City for a four-night stay, a black-tie gala and $1,500 cash. Info:

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