Patrick McGregor, The Fixer
(NEW YORK) In-house communications capo Patrick McGregor has lent his PR magic to brands like Versace and BCBG, and even moved to Milan to work for Donatella. After a stint on “Planet Versace,” however, he’s back in Manhattan and putting out his own shingle. He talked to The Daily about his new firm, KP McGregor Consulting, and what it can do for you.
BY EDDIE ROCHE
What made you decide to go out on your own?
It’s a logical progression in my career, but it’s also seeing a need that’s out there. There are a lot of agencies now, and the market is sort of saturated. A lot of companies already have someone in-house who might be a little more junior, who handles the product and the day-to-day. Many times these companies don’t want to hire an agency and be one of 20, 30, or 40 clients, since they’re already doing all the basic stuff. What they’re looking for is someone very seasoned and well-connected with global experience. That’s where I found there was a niche.
Expand on that.
I’m a fixer, but I’m also a Wizard of Oz. I’m behind the curtain pulling the levers, making things happen, setting up social situations where people can meet and it looks completely organic. No one should know there’s a Patrick McGregor involved. The more they don’t know, the better it is for me. Maybe it would be better if people knew more, but if I’m doing my job well, you don’t know that I’m there.
What do you do best?
I’ve been able to really help brands—such as Herve Leger and Versace—that needed to be reinvigorated. When I met with Ms. Versace, whom I admire so much, the company was going through some restructuring and I was able to work closely with her on some initiatives to help make the brand more relevant. I’m not talking here about the clothes—she’s a genius at what she does—I’m just talking about different partnerships and tie-ins, like the Lady Gaga partnership and the H&M collaboration, or bringing Atelier Versace back to the Paris runway, which was a really big deal for her.
Were you responsible for the Versace and H&M collaboration?
It takes a village. I would never take credit for anything, because the first person who should take credit is Ms. Versace. She’s the hardest-working person I’ve ever worked with. The time I spent with her was incredible.
Why don’t you call her Donatella?
I did call her Donatella when I was with her, but there’s a sense of respect where everyone who works with her refers to her as Ms. Versace. When I got the job, I was really honored. I was so nervous when we first met, but I knew I was going to go in there and ‘get it.’ I just knew. Why? I knew it was the right match, and I knew I could help the company. She is everything you think she is: very glamorous, but also so easy and so sweet. Not like the Maya Rudolph character at all.
You moved to Milan for the job. How did that go?
It was a challenge. For work, I didn’t really need to speak Italian, but I wanted to learn it out of respect and had a tutor. The first year was great. I think afterward it got a little…[pauses] People would ask me where I lived in Italy, and I would say I was living on a planet called Versace, filled with Medusas. It was a great place to be, but I didn’t fall in love. I brought my dog, which was fabulous, but it was sort of my dog and me. I dated, but Italian men are tough.
Why do you say that?
They all have boyfriends, or they’re all married and they don’t tell you and then you find out later. It’s just bizarre.
What did you learn from the Italians?
I’d like to think my time there taught me to relax a little more, but I’m not so sure. It was like a Woody Allen movie, like when he does a movie in Spain. I’m a hard-core New Yorker. I like action. The work was hard, but there was nothing else to do. Everything closes early in Milan! I did learn from working with Ms. Versace, though. She doesn’t take herself as seriously as you would think. She laughs, and she knows she’s glamorous, and she laughs about it. It was like living in an Ab Fab episode. Nothing she does is simple. It’s all done perfectly. I learned that if you’re going to do something, you do it right. And I’m not talking about money here. I’m talking about always working with the best people, the best makeup artists, the best this, the best that.
When did you decide to move back to New York?
I was always going to come back. My contract was up, and the company turned a profit, and I just wasn’t happy living in Milan.
Did you see the Lifetime movie about Ms. Versace?
I did. The quality was really not so good. It was very one-dimensional. The real Donatella is funny, yes, I think they got that. But I think she’s such a complex woman. I had moments with her that were really special. To be with an icon like her, who has been around for so long and been through so much… I’ve been sober for almost 19 years now, and that’s the first thing I told her when I met her. I know how tough it is, and I think she’s amazing.
And now you’re starting fresh. Who are some of your clients?
Alejandro Ingelmo, Halston, a new upscale swimwear brand Flagpole, the upcoming film directorial debut of Maggie Betts, and the artist Mark Fox, whose solo show is currently at the Robert Miller Gallery in Chelsea.
Are you scared going out on your own?
I’ve never been less scared in my life. I’ve got nothing to lose.