Behind the Scenes of Fashion Rocks

Last-minute changes, secrets and stars like Beyoncé are required accessories.

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WWD Music issue 09/04/2008
As Fashion Rocks enters its fifth year, the splashy multimedia event faces its toughest challenge yet. How to top the last four shows, which have featured the likes of icons David Bowie, Elton John and Carlos Santana sharing a stage with hot young artists like Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys and Fergie?

This year’s concert, hosted by Denis Leary and benefiting Step Up to Cancer, also promises not to disappoint in the talent department with a mix of show veterans like Beyoncé, Rihanna and the Black Eyed Peas; Fashion Rocks magazine cover boy Justin Timberlake, and newcomers Lil Wayne, Chris Brown and Duffy, to name just a few of the artists who will participate.

With such star power and high-production values, securing talent now is “a lot less difficult,” says Richard Beckman, president of the Condé Nast Media Group, chief marketing officer of Condé Nast Publications and executive producer of Fashion Rocks. And performers often return. Beyoncé, for example, will make her third appearance in the show. “She has been the personification of fashion and music,” Beckman says. “She’s always very excited. We’re excited to have her.”

But excitement alone won’t assure you a spot in the lineup these days. “There have been many artists that would astonish you in terms of how famous they are that we just didn’t think were right for the show,” says Beckman. And there are the ones he thinks are right, but have remained out of reach, like U2, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Madonna.

“One day, she’ll do it,” he insists of Madge, who may be swayed by this year’s purported opening number, Rihanna’s version of “Vogue,” which might include a live runway show produced by Jan Kroeze from OBO Productions.

“It’s not so much about color as it is about glamour and elegance and drama,” says Kroeze, who has reached out to dozens of designers for the show, including Versace and Rodarte. Ultimately, he will settle on pieces from six to nine fall-winter 2008 collections that capture that Nineties look.

Kroeze will curate another live fashion show for a Motown medley segment during the production, which will feature skinny ties, tuxes and dresses from this season’s collections. “I think the fashion is more integrated than it was last year. There’s more of it,” says Kroeze, who will also produce several 30-second lead-in videos that will tie in style with musical genres, like the British Invasion, punk, disco and hip-hop, as a mix of classic and contemporary songs plays.
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