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BRAND X: Fast Friends

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The Versace brand stands for a lot of things: sex, glamour, excess, and . . . friendship? Well, yeah, if you embrace the message "Friendship Is Freedom," a 58-page booklet produced by Interview and sponsored by Versace that accompanies the March issue on newsstands. Quasi-editorial supplements are nothing new, of course -- Versace has done this sort of thing before, and Calvin Klein and DKNY have issued big-budget "onserts" with Vanity Fair. But the new booklet looks as if the design house and the magazine have merged, using Interview's typefaces and even a Q and A with Donatella conducted by Interview editor Ingrid Sischy. The overall effect is PG-13 Hallmark, sprinkled with musings from Donatella's friends on the meaning of friendship. The Artist declares that "great friends help U2B free." Lil' Kim thinks that "friendship is being oneself." Elizabeth Hurley gushes about Donatella: "She's a gleaming blonde, bejeweled fantasy." Yes, it's a self-promotional exercise for Donatella and a way for Interview to reward a designer (and major advertiser) it adores. But "Friendship" also warms up the hard-edged Euro-glamour of the Versace brand, using the vernacular of platinum-blonde celebrityhood, wherein one can be both lavishly generous and extravagantly self-indulgent.


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