OLDHAM RIDES STARS, MTV ESCHEWS TRADITIONAL PR, ADVERTISING ROUTE

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At 32, Todd Oldham is one of the hippest and hottest designers on the New York scene. High-profile celebrities from Madonna, Janet Jackson, Susan Sarandon, Rosie O'Donnell-the list goes on-launched Mr. Oldham's razzmatazz designs right into the spotlight.

Known for low-key marketing, his boyish charm and offbeat sense of humor permeate MTV's "House of Style" with the perky section called "Todd's Time." On top of all this, he's designing costumes for films and is starting to direct. His whole approach is so non-traditional many wonder how he does it.

Advertising Age: How do you stay "hot" with consumers and fashion editors without doing much marketing?

Todd: We consciously decided not to go the PR route. There's no agent trying to cram me down your throat. We have no attitude. We don't do any advertising. We can't afford it.

However ... we will be placing ads for our New York store [in that city's] Paper.

Although we don't advertise, we do get covered. It's a fine line. We are able to somehow maneuver where what we do is newsworthy enough that we get it passed through without advertising.

Now, we constantly get calls from the magazines' advertising departments. They're needling us. But we're completely self-financed. We would much rather do our shows in a manner that works for us, as opposed to offering clothes in ads to sell more.

AA: Do you use your fashion show to market?

Todd: Our runway show is the only place where you see it as our idea. It would be much better to call it a "fashion party" rather than a show. We make it fun! What we do is not about putting the green pants with the green jacket. It's a much more personal interpretation. It's good that you see my version. But it's also good that you think for yourself and turn it into something that works for you.

AA: What is the key to your success?

Todd: I think we've stuck to our guns. We've done things on our own. For the past five years, I've been doing what I wanted. Before that I wasn't and I had only marginal success. But when I did what I wanted, I became very successful.

AA: What is most important in your dealings with the public? Todd: Integrity of our product-absolutely. For us, what you see is what you get. There is nothing in between to confuse you.

AA: What is the key to design, for you?

Todd: Having a singular vision. What people get from us, they don't get from other people. We've created a niche for ourselves. What we do is ours. Whether you like what I do or not, you have to admit it's not like anyone else's.

AA: What is influencing '90s fashions?

Todd: There's an underlying theme: It's that we must recognize our needs as an individual-not as a group, but as an individual. Designers can't bully us.

I hope it continues. I hope it totally obliterates the designer as some kind of icon. You should choose for yourself.

Look at the streets, at all the incredible different versions of styles. Clothes are bare, casual and sporty. We're so lucky here in New York to have multicultural references-a world culture-facing us at all times. I find it a total delight.

AA: How do you explain your current celebrity status?

Todd: I don't seek it. I'm happy that people know my product. But I don't understand that focus on wanting to be a "financial mogul" or a "hot" designer.

I still have the same life, the same friends I've had all along, so it is not strange as far as my life changing....

I must admit my favorite thing to do is just to sit. I really love that. Just to sit and be with the air. That's very nice.

My goal? To try to have a happy day.

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