Asked & Answered | Kelly Cutrone

Asked & Answered | Kelly Cutrone

 

When Kelly Cutrone moved to New York in the mid-’80s, she didn’t have much more than a nursing degree and a dauntless attitude. Today she’s a scandalously outspoken publicist who reduces young girls to tears on shows like “The City” and “The Hills.” Her ruthless work ethic is the result of hard-learned lessons. In the mid-’90s, she divorced her first husband, gave up half of her PR firm, tossed her party wigs and fled to Topanga, Calif., where she conquered her drug addiction and became a spiritual warrior. After reading tarot cards in Santa Monica and working for the Psychic Network, she gradually made her way back to PR.

Now the 44-year-old is the head of People’s Revolution — with offices in L.A., New York and Paris — as well as the star of the new reality series “Kell on Earth” and the author of “If You Have to Cry Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You,” a book she describes as a “call to arms” for women and gay men. T caught up with her before fashion week.

How do your clients feel about you being in the spotlight?

A.

The majority of my clients have been pretty happy about it because they’ve seen the payoff of being in television shows. They understand that there are companies that pay a lot of money for 15 seconds of exposure, which is part of what they are getting by being with my agency.

With information being exposed so quickly on the Internet, what power does a publicist really have?

Even if things are instantaneous, there is still a strategy. If you know how to apply it, it can resonate in a certain direction in a more profound and powerful way. Things really do go global nowadays, and so you have to time your message for when the world is more susceptible, by being aware of events that are happening.

In your book you say that publicity is built on spinning the truth. How would you differentiate between spinning the truth and a lie?

[Laughs.] Oh my God, if I can answer this question I could maybe get a religion. I would say that spinning the truth has a starting place that’s good, real and right, whereas a lie does not. It really depends on the perception and intention of the spinner.

What are three things that your employees should never forget while working for you?

One of the most important things is for them not to make decisions about my clients without checking with me. I think what makes for a good publicist is that they get excited about things and they want to tell people, and that can be incredibly dangerous. Second, never to lie to me! Not to my face and behind my back. Take a personal day if you’re not sick. Third, they shouldn’t forget that they are super-important to me. I think that employees don’t realize how much power they have.

How much does your daughter, Eva, know about fashion and your job?

She knows way too much. Eva is like our Eloise. She’ll go around the office to the interns and say, “Hi, my name is Eva, would you like to come to my dance party? You need to be on the list.” I don’t think it’s a bad thing for her. She’s watching a group of women and gay men work together every day in a powerful place, she’s learning about hierarchy and collaboration, and she’s a part of the team.

People are still talking about the incident with Ashley Dupré a year later. Do you have any regrets?

I would like to point out that this is how absolutely boring NYC is. Do you realize that this happened a year ago? A call girl who had sex with a man for money was allowed to go to a fashion show, and a year later — Season No. 3 — it’s still going on. Is it really that shocking? I live in a different world, I didn’t see that as a story that would keep going for a year. It was just a freak thing that happened. I’m happy by the choices that I made. After that happened, she called me up and was like, “I’m so sorry. You can pretend that you don’t know me.” No. I’m not going to do this. So 30 fashion people in N.Y. think that I suck now. Like I care.

Now that you’ve joined the ranks of reality TV stars, who would you want to invite to one of your shows?

Johnny Weir should be front row at Jeremy Scott.

After witnessing more than 20 years of changes in the industry, where do you see fashion going?

I think for America, starting a luxury brand business in the next five years is definitely not a strong move. It’s going to be more about the item than the collection, and it’s going to be more about the street than the top of the mountain. People want to express themselves — that’s what fashion is for. You can go to Target and get something that Rodarte designed for $34, but would you want to go buy the higher version for $3,400? I think most people would say no.

Next, become known for making an item that doesn’t have a fit that’s so particular that people can’t buy it on the Internet. Small, medium and large and under $300 for the next five years sounds like a plan to me.

In terms of fashion week, I think there will be a lot going on with new media and the making of films and more and more presentations. I think things are going to get really exciting in terms of presentation. I don’t know if we are going to see it this season because people are so broke and having a hard time.

With all that you’ve accomplished, what are you still striving for in your career?

Getting through reality television with a PR company, a new branding office, a new talk show and a new book career with my teeth. Getting through the recession. Those are my long- and short-term goals.

If a young Kelly Cutrone walked into your office asking for a job, what would you say to her?

When can you start? And get in line!

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Comments

  1. Good interview. I enjoyed the post and I think these were some great questions. Kelly Cutrone rocks!!! She’s a strong and hard working woman.

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