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Benetton Says Arrivederci to Adman Toscani

May 03, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

After 18 years, Benetton has severed ties with Oliviero Toscani, the Italian creative director whose controversial advertisements have featured AIDS patients, mating horses and, most recently, death-row inmates.

"Fortunately, nothing lasts forever!" said Toscani in a statement issued by Benetton. "It's good to have the courage to end something that has been fantastic and still have the enthusiasm to take on new projects."

Luciano Benetton thanked Toscani for his "fundamental contribution" in the statement but did not provide an explanation for the breakup.

"I'm sure people are going to make whatever connection they want," said Benetton spokesperson Mark Major. "But we've known Mr. Toscani was looking for other challenges for some time. He's already taken up a position with Talk magazine."

"Benetton is one of the most well-known brands in the world after just 18 years in existence," Major said. "Mr. Benetton feels it's time to focus on growing the business, instead of just growing the brand name."

The decision comes on the heels of a public outcry over Toscani's latest campaign featuring interviews with death row inmates. The print ads led to boycotts in Pennsylvania and Texas, a lawsuit in Missouri and to Sears, Roebuck & Co. pulling the Benetton line from its stores.

Major said Benetton's ad campaigns will now be handled by Fabrica, the Italian art school founded by the company in 1994, with Toscani's help.

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InStyle is going online. Angela Matusik, a senior editor at the lifestyle magazine, will become the editor of InStyle.com, a Time Warner venture to be launched this fall, according to Fashion Wire Daily.

The site will have editorial as well as links to shopping Web sites, and users will also be able to buy items featured in the magazine.

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Here's a weird one: The Greek Theatre is having a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for a restroom.

The morning event will celebrate the $2-million renovation of the 70-year-old facilities with an official "first flush."

Summer concertgoers will be relieved that the number of women's stalls has been tripled, bringing the total to 96, the floors and walls have been re-tiled and new toilets and cup holders have been added to both the men's and women's rooms. Faux Greek columns and green marble counters provide "an added touch of elegance," according to press materials.

Along with City Council President John Ferraro and Recreation and Parks Commission president (and mayoral candidate) Steve Soboroff, 157 Los Angeles students are scheduled to attend.

I wonder what their parents thought when asked to sign permission slips for a field trip to a toilet? Surely Los Angeles has more compelling cultural attractions.

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Love this Mother's Day gift idea: San Francisco sleepwear designer Karen Neuburger has come up with a pajama print inspired by Maya Angelou's poem "Phenomenal Woman." The design is a mix of pink flowers, stripes and Angelou's words.

Neuburger came up with the idea after Oprah Winfrey requested custom PJs for guests at a 70th birthday cruise she hosted for Angelou in 1998.

The inspirational jammies were such a hit that Neuburger made them part of her collection, available at Macy's and at http://www.karenneuburger.com for $46-$66. Proceeds benefit Angelou's favorite charities: the National Council of Negro Women, the Children's Defense Fund and the United Negro College Fund.

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Booth Moore can be reached at booth.moore@latimes.com.

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