The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stars in fashion front pews cost a pretty penny

Hollywood stars are being offered cash payments of up to £60,000 to endorse fashion designers by sitting in the front row at their catwalk shows.

The existence of the “appearance fees” came to light last week during the New York leg of the biannual fashion show circuit, which opened in London on Saturday and later moves on to Paris and Milan.

The secret deals have been offered to tempt names such as George Clooney and Lara Flynn Boyle, former girlfriend of Jack Nicholson; singers Beyonce Knowles and Ricky Martin; and Kiera Chaplin, granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin. Contracts running into dozens of pages are used to formalise some arrangements.

The practice was revealed by Women’s Wear Daily, the fashion “bible”, and Vogue magazine’s daily news website. Fashion commentators claim that it is widespread and say that it is part of a growing trend within an industry obsessed by the endorsement of the beautiful and famous.

Paolo Zampolli, the director of ID Models, said: “It happens all the time in Milan. Last year, we negotiated between £16,000 and £63,000 for Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter Kiera to sit in at some shows.”

While George Clooney, Beyonce Knowles and Cris Judd are regulars at fashion shows for no obvious reason, their appearances would be worth more than £16,000 in terms of publicity.

The report said: “Beyonce Knowles may have been offered up to $25,000 just to sit and smile in all the right places. Jennifer Lopez’s ex-husband Cris Judd is said to be a particular favourite with some top fashion houses: one Hollywood gossip claimed Judd earned himself £16,000 for attending the Bryant Park show (in New York) last weekend.”

Another fashion commentator told Vogue: “The contract to get Ricky Martin to sit in the front row at the Armani show two years ago was 23 pages long.”

A representative for Lara Flynn Boyle, who starred in Twin Peaks, was candid. He told The Daily Telegraph: “Yes, we ask appearance fees for our clients. It is the usual thing that celebrities get paid for appearances.”

A-list endorsement of a fashion show is undeniably important to designers, as Versace and Giorgio Armani have shown in their front rows and subsequent press coverage.

Donatella Versace, whose show last year cost £1 mill- ion, is notorious for her following, which includes Eliza-beth Hurley, PDiddy, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Chelsea Clinton, George Clooney, Catherine Zeta Jones, Jenn- ifer Lopez and Madonna.

Other fashion houses admitted to “doing everything possible” to make their guests comfortable. This might include luring stars with offers of first-class flights, suites in the best hotels and chauffeur-driven cars, the costs of which can run into tens of thousands of pounds. Kylie Minogue and Victoria Beckham are both believed to have enjoyed such an understanding with Dolce e Gabbana.

Some designers don’t need to tempt big names to their events: Sir Paul McCartney’s presence at his daughter Stella’s early shows guaranteed her enviable newspaper coverage.

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