The Mad hatter: the method to the Marketing of Ivy Supersonic, a.k.a. the marketing of sex and fashion in New York

One of the things that are universal about New Yorkers is our ability to survive and to thrive where others, well ... fail. Fashion, like New York, is about survival. No where else can you find the daily blends of people, fumes, food, and depravity. Some say in that chaos, those who do, do, and those who don't, get fucked.

Then there are those who think fucking is the way it gets done (politicians and supermodels aside). Sex, as a marketing tool, is not original, but hell it works in everything from ads to soap to jeans. Sex, some say, is the most effective marketing tool.

No one has mastered that better than Ivy Supersonic: self-described designer of fashion, art, entertainment, marketing and media, in addition to designing the aforementioned feather hats. A few years back, a friend of mine told me about this woman Ivy Silberstein, as she was called then. She designed outrageous, feathered hats worn in shows by conspicuously naked models, clad in body paint or vegetables.

It was only a few days ago, while at dinner with a colleague, I again heard about this woman now called Ivy Supersonic who is doing The Feathered Hat Naked Wedding Party (description to follow). Prompted by this faithful mention and an impending deadline, I searched through my old Filofaxes to get the phone number of Ms. Supersonic.

I wasn't prepared for the world-wise Earth mother who emerged from the elevator of her building. Clad in bellbottoms and platforms (imagine Lizzie Grubman dressed as Janis Joplin). Ivy, a self-confessed hippie at heart, embraces the idealism of the seventies with the edge of a seasoned Public Relations person. Saying that she is media savvy is an understatement, to stay the least. She speaks in rapid tongue, mentioning sponsors, celebrities, her vision and the world as she sees it. Impressive, considering that she has no technical experience at making hats and that she has only been involved in the business for two years.

At age twenty-three, this Long Island native dropped out of the University of Maryland and began her own company which designed, or rather redesigned, vintage Levi's with sequins, patches and feathers. After closing this company due to a lack of finances, she designed for another company. This is where the Feathered hats come in. In her own words, "I was supposed to be designing something else but I did these hats. They just didn't understand them."

Everything I do is feathers," she says, as we sit in the lobby of her apartment building. "I don't really plan what I design. It's designed as I am making it. My hands have a brain of their own. My inspiration is a natural thing. The hats are like a magnet." With that, Ivy whisked out a cowboy hat that she had made for Tommy Lee, and another very impressive hat with a pheasant feather extending from the back (imagine a feathered armadillo hat). "People just want to be near you when you wear these hats, they are a girl magnet if you are a guy. People just want to touch you!

However, I am led to believe that, apparently, the naked part has nothing to do with the participatory nature of these shows. Ms. Supersonic used the nudity as a means to focus attention toward the hats while featuring the talents of various artists. There is definitely a sexual nature to the show, but the girls are actually living pieces of art, she declares. It's not everyday that hat designers give a runway show and I wanted my shows to be artistic but focus on the creative talent of my friends and the moment." She goes on to mention a quote by Anthony Haden-Guest: "young- women who are mostly naked but so flamboyantly painted they seemed practically overdressed."

"I tell them what I do and people are down for it because its wild and you could totally be involved. Yes, my shows take away from the Hats. But, everybody loves the hats! The whole point of the show is about creativity. If you want to get naked, get naked. There is no rehearsal, no nothing. It's the energy that makes this work."

"I tell them what I do and people are down for it because its wild and you could totally be involved. Yes, my shows take away from the Hats. But, everybody loves the hats! The whole point of the show is about creativity. If you want to get naked, get naked. There is no rehearsal, no nothing. It's the energy that makes this work."

Ivy explained that this show, in particular, "The Feathered Naked Wedding" is the actual wedding of two models. Performing the ceremony will be Reverend (go Figure?) Fred Barry, formerly "Rerun" from the 80's television sitcom "WHAT'S HAPPENING." Her show will feature (this is wear, pun intended, the sex comes in) naked models dressed in various feathered hats walking around, getting their bodies painted. It is a menagerie of models, performance artists, eye candy, audience members, fire breathers, and, of course, celebrities. Among the people expected to attend this event are: Tommy Lee, Little Kim, Jellybean Benitz and others but I don't have enough space.

Ms. Supersonic has a penchant for marketing, to say the least. Having obtained an imposing list of interviews, television mentions, and press, it has been said that this gal has balls. After all, she managed to invite herself onto a press only plane for a Joe Boxer event in Iceland. Balls with a touch of supersonic dialogue and lots of feathers.

The size of her press books rivals that of my Bell Atlantic phone book. She has had everyone from celebrities like Malcolm Jamal Warner, to Anthony Kedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers participate in her events. The fashion shows are financed solely by sponsors including Camel cigarettes, CMJ, Krispy Kreme, Hooters (yes, Hooters), Details magazine, Kodak and others. Ivy has even managed to barter with her messenger company.

I suggested that perhaps Ivy should consider writing about her exploits in obtaining sponsorship for her events.

"I am going to write the book on how to get everything for free. It's like a survival instinct. I am a survivor. I just know how to do these things." Ivy was speaking of a show she did in L.A last year. She had committed to putting together a show and wasn't leaving until she "fucked up LA. She explained, I did whatever I had to do to pull the show off. I didn't know anyone when I got there but when I left, I knew every agent, every actor." At the end of this, she reels off yet another list of celebrities which I, for editing purposes, will leave out (hint.... not enough space).

In addition, to her other endeavors, Ms. Supersonic assembled The Groovy Gals, a roaming tribe of models. The Groovy Gals gathered together initially so that Ivy would have a core set of models to work with. They are now part of Supersonic Media Force. She sends these girls out in droves to participate in various events and cause chaos in their wake. They have represented her on everything from the Playboy channel to the Maury Povich Show. The theory behind Supersonic Media is part talent management, part public relations. Then, of course, there is the Feathered Hat store opening soon in SoHo.

At the end of our interview, I suggested that I arrange a suitable time to watch Ms. Supersonic at work. As she flicked her hand in the air, she suggested, "we can do it when my team is here and we will be missioning together." When I asked her what missioning is, she coolly stated, "It means whatever the fuck I want!" As the door closes I hear her laughing, perhaps because this girl gets exactly what she wants.

Supersonic Media Inc.

(212) 780-3329
(323) 769-5871

www.supersonic.com

CREDITS

Author:

Rebecca Pietri

Photo:

Courtesy of
Supersonic Media

Additonal Photos by
IMNYC

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