Saul Taylor / July 31, 2019
Smith-Petersen started her working life by going straight in at the top with Giorgio Armani. Thirty-five years on from providing PR and communications to the godfather of Italian style, her “devotion to the world of luxury and fashion in everything I do” has resulted in a career trajectory that boasts a roll-call of fashion’s most famous names.
Tell us about your personal history and how you got started in the events industry – and how you ended up where you are today.
I started 35 years ago working alongside Giorgio Armani as the International PR Officer and Communication Manager for eight years. I then became PR Director for Valentino for two years, and in 1993 opened the first Calvin Klein European office in Milan, where I was Senior Vice President of International Public Relations for 11 years. I later became Worldwide Communications Director for Tod’s for two years.
In 2006, I opened my own PR & communications agency providing consultancy to Valentino, Tom Ford, Bottega Veneta, Ermenegildo Zegna, Lanvin, Delvaux, Aman, Palazzo Avino, Fendi Casa and Natuzzi.
What has been the secret to your success?
I reflect my extraordinary passion and devotion to the world of luxury and fashion in everything I do. I have been able to establish personal and professional relationships with designers and the press at an international level.
Tell us about the process of staging an event.
We have an initial brainstorming meeting with our various teams. We put together ideas and create an action plan together with the production company. There are many team members involved in each of our events, and every one of them contributes actively to guarantee its success.
How do you approach the food, drink and catering aspects?
We select the best suppliers in town. Each caterer needs to pass an initial food-tasting test, and location-scouting and creativity for the production company. We always offer the best options and accurate budgets to our clients.
How do you do the casting? What about entertainment?
We have a division that works exclusively on events. We do initial research with lots of locations and talents and then we narrow it down to a smaller selection to present to the client.
Who make the best clients?
The ones who trust us.
Who make the best guests?
A mix of guests is always great, from celebrities and influencers to socialites and international press.
How is the event industry changing to keep up with the sudden supremacy of social media and technological breakthroughs?
The event industry has changed under the influence of social media. Everything is immediate and creativity in the production of content is essential. Influencers are the new “stars” of today and are an essential part of a communication plan.
Here is a chance to do a bit of a pitch — who would you love to work with who you haven’t yet and why?
I have worked with many incredible designers over my career. I feel that I have worked with most of the best.
What makes your city so interesting to stage events in?
Milan is unique: number one for design, elegant and chic.
What are your favourite locations?
Triennale Milano, Villa Necchi Campiglio, Palazzo Visconti, Fondazione Prada, Palazzo Crespi and Palazzo Clerici to name a few in Milan; Palazzo Torlonia, Palazzo Ruspoli and Palazzo Borghese in Rome; Scuola Grande di San Rocco and Aman Venice in Venice; and finally, Castel dell’Ovo in Naples.
What are your most memorable events of all time?
Valentino’s 45th anniversary, Mirabilia Roma and the Pucci 60th anniversary.
What makes a great event?
Seated dinners. The choice of the caterer, the event designer for the table design and the creation of the master guest list are always strong features with us. The teams involved – and naturally my team from Smith-Petersen.Back