By Anna Sekula Posted November 21, 2011, 2:45 PM EST
NEW YORK With speakers like Victoria Beckham, designer Tory Burch, and Bottega Veneta president and C.E.O. Marco Bizzarri on the roster for its 15th Apparel & Retail C.E.O. Summit, WWD drew a crowd of high-level executives in the fashion industry. The two-day conference, which took over the Plaza Monday, November 14, through Tuesday, November 15, had the theme “Brand Everywhere.” In that spirit, the organizers sought to create a setting as topical and stimulating as the presenters on stage with an ever-changing color palette and some unexpected components.
Designed as a forum for peer-to-peer networking and discussion, the summit included sessions in the grand ballroom as well as breakfast, lunch, cocktails, dinner, and intermissions in the Terrace Room, its adjoining foyer, the Rose Club, and the Centennial foyer. Overseeing the planning for WWD was Fairchild Fashion Group's executive director of event marketing, Kristen Wildman, who enlisted Shiraz Events to help execute the design and production.
Key to the strategy was finding new ways to use the familiar spaces, including shifting the layout in the grand ballroom where the speaker sessions took place. Rather than using the banquet area's formal stage on the west side of the room, the organizers built a platform against the longer northern wall, allowing the audience to be closer to the presenters and feel more engaged. The backdrop was also carefully thought out: The large gold frames surrounding the video screen and over-size images from the summit's “Brand Everywhere” motif matched the white-and-gold, neo-Classical design of the space, while masking the opera boxes sitting behind the stage.
The production team also played around with the look and format of every other aspect of the program. Starting with an orange-and white motif for Monday morning's breakfast in the Terrace Room and continuing through to the purple-hued floral arrangements and scattered apples for Tuesday's luncheon in the Grand Ballroom foyer, each part of the schedule had its own color scheme. For the early morning meals, the conference's planners encouraged guests to network more by creating a café-like lounge with highboys to stand around and a handful of conventional round tables.
On the technology side, WWD introduced the first live-streamed presentation for the C.E.O. Summit, broadcasting Burch's discussion on the use of social media for communicating a brand's story via Facebook. The event also invited attendees to vote for the trade paper's “Newsmaker of the Year” at stations designed to look like old-fashioned polling booths.