Monday, November 22, 2010

Fashion TV - Kate Krantz

Fashion has evolved into an astounding $300 billion industry, supplying the fashion obsessed, fashion forward, and even fashion victims, with new styles, pieces and patterns to covet (Baglin). Since its launch in 1997, Fashion TV has catered to vogue hungry audiences with an impressive expanse of channels. Generating well over 1 million hits per month, the website alone speaks volumes of FTV’s success. The FTV channel reaches an estimated 350 million households worldwide. The channel boasts an incredible 300 new shows per season with topics including fashion, models, hair and makeup, designers and red carpets. The channel’s slogan, “I see it first on fashiontv," is an attempt to heighten the exclusivity of what has grown into a vertically integrated corporation with yachts, clubs, vodka and coming soon, resorts (“Fashion TV General Presentation”).



Today with thirteen FTV channels, shows such as “Back Stage”, “Midnight Hot”, and “Focus On” appeal to a wide range of the fashion crazed on all ends of the business. “Back Stage” provides an “exclusive access to fashion industry professionals” such as the swimwear line, Seduction ("Fashion TV General Presentation"). A bit more risqué is the show “Midnight Hot.” The nightly show airing at midnight “features sexy models who present their bikini photo shoots” ("Fashion TV General Presentation"). The program “Focus On” leans towards a more profession approach, documenting the behind-the-scenes of major fashion houses.

Michel Adam Lisowski, founder and single owner of Fashion TV, was born and raised in Poland before attending college at Princeton University on a mathematics scholarship. After starting a textile business in Thailand in the 1970s (and selling five years later due to a serious national financial crisis that rocked the country), Lisowski decided to start up Fashion TV in 1997. The decision was a response to an opening in the market place for a glamorized, luxurious television channel revolving around the fashion industry. In an interview for ThomasCrampton.com, Lisowski says he founded the company because “viewers like to see beautiful girls [and] the latest fashion” (“Michel Adam: Why I Founded Fashion TV”). Lisowski has exhibited behavior suggesting the true motives for creating Fashion TV and the F brand to be less about presenting “the latest fashion” (“Michel Adam: Why I Founded Fashion TV”) and more driven by his personal, carnal-oriented desires. This assertion is further confirmed by examining the lawsuits that have followed Lisowski and the FTV corporation since it’s conception.

In 2000, Lisowski was sued and sentenced for the sexual assualt and abuse of model Eva Cyankiewicz. The crimes repeatedly occurred in 1997, the founding year of Fashion TV, after Lisowski promised 21-year-old Cyankiewicz a modeling and singing career should she come to Paris with him. When in his Paris apartment, the assaults became increasingly violent, during the last of which Cyankiewicz recalls in court documents that the accused “threw himself on me, pulled off my dress, hit me on the buttocks and turned me over. He lowered his trousers. He hit me in the face” (Jeffries). Lisowski claimed that her extensive bodily wounds came from nothing more than a clumsy fall. Cyankiewicz’s account of her days in Paris with the abusive Lisowski led the court to believe that Fashion TV was “involved in money laundering and prostitution” (Jeffries). More recently, in 2008, “the Indian government banned [FTV] for what it called “unsuitable” content”(Trebay 2) – programs such as “Midnight Hot” come to mind as falling under the umbrella of “unsuitable.”

Fashion TV subscriber demographics also reveal bizarre findings: an astounding 82% are male, wealthy and between the ages of 35 and 54. It becomes less of a surprise that the company has exploited young girls and female nudity in a way considered distasteful and wholly unfashionable by many after considering these demographics (“Fashion TV Distribution”).

Fashion TV reels in an astounding audience of over 350 million persons monthly; however, among industry professionals and up-and-comers, the source is not considered as innovative nor legitimate as other sources. Publications such as Numero, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar were mentioned as more reliable sources by Los Angeles stylist Meg Freeman. Also noted by Freeman were blogs such as fashiontoast.com, thestylerookie.com, thesartorialist.com and thecut.com (Freeman). The introduction of blogs in the past few years has revolutionized the fashion industry to an incredible degree. With the infiltration of ‘rookie’ fashionistas contributing their opinions to the blogosphere followed by support from aforementioned publications, the question of what it means to be legitimate in fashion has been severely altered. Whereas once legitimacy in fashion was dictated by selective, big-name editors and publications, now with a keen eye and fresh take, anyone can blog their fashion forward looks.

Both blogs and classic magazines detract Fashion TV’s credibility as an ‘in-the-know’ source. The F brand seems far more appealing to the Jersey Shore crowd with its Ed Hardy-esque promotional clothing and seedy behind the scene goings on than on par with L’Official or Vogue editorials.

Links: 1. Michel Adam: Why I Founded Fashion TV - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVCxMpWvnIo&feature=player_embedded

2.Happy Birthday Mister President! - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcWTDTjmb28


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