Cutrone from ‘The Hills’ discusses success in fashion industry

Kelly Cutrone wears black almost every day. And Friday, when she came to speak at the Newhouse school, was no exception to the all black rule – though this time, the fashion maven was wearing an outfit from The Gap.

When Cutrone arrived at Newhouse to speak, she was expecting an intimate, question-and-answer session with about 20 students. However, what the founder and CEO of fashion public relations firm People’s Revolution encountered was a room packed with fashion-conscience people waiting to hear her speak.

The event was then moved to the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse III, which was filled with a mostly female audience.

“She is the woman to know in the fashion business,” said Viviana Quevedo, a freshman communication and rhetorical studies major. “She’s someone to admire. You can tell that she has worked very hard to get where she is today; the sacrifices she makes to do what she does says a lot about her character as a professional.”

While there was no gossip about her celebrity employees Whitney and Lauren from MTV’s “The Hills,” Cutrone instead spent time name-dropping former clients and famous fashion icons she’s worked with. Designers Vivienne Westwood, Jeremy Scott, Bernhard Willhelm and Derek Lam make that list.

Her company, People’s Revolution, is a well-known fashion public relations, branding and marketing firm, which Cutrone built on her own. Exactly what her company does was described in Cutrone’s round about way through stories and examples from the 12 years the company has been in business.

“I always feel like I’m smarter than everyone because when I go to these (shows), I’m getting paid to be there,” she said. “Like a fashion show, when people are dying to get a free ticket, I’m like ‘I’m making $50,000 today.’”

When Cutrone started People’s Revolution, the term ‘branding’ didn’t exist. But as she defines it, branding is telling a story and creating an image around something that lacks those elements. One example she gave was of the French luxury bag company Longchamp, which Cutrone represented.

When Longchamp first approached Cutrone, the brand was being kicked off the floor of Saks Fifth Avenue stores and had an outdated product – “everything was made to look like it was made for a 75-year-old woman from Kentucky.”

At first, she didn’t think it would fit with her company. But eventually, after three months of observing the brand and going through the archives, Cutrone finally got Longchamp to where it wanted to be – in Vogue magazine. She convinced celebrities and their daughters to use the product, and “Voila.”

Cutrone also spoke about her history as a music publicist and her life traveling on tours and being a “wild rock-n-roll chick.” And before fashion was big, Cutrone started People’s Revolution claiming that “fashion is the new rock-n-roll.” At one point, she compared the role of a publicist to that of a hooker.

“I think it’s hysterical that people actually think I know what I’m doing,” Cutrone said. “But you know what, once you start to believe in it, it just starts to happen.”


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