Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman and a tacky Valentino PR moment

This post has been updated, as indicated below.

Are we really shocked that a fashion house would send out a release announcing that a movie star is carrying its handbag to the funeral of another movie star?

On Friday, celebrities gathered in New York to pay tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman, the great actor whose death from an apparent heroin overdose has occasioned a poignant outpouring not just about his contributions to American cinema and theater but also about the disease of addiction and the thrall in which it keeps even those who have been deeply committed to sobriety for years.

But, you know, commerce is commerce, and there's nothing like a good celebrity endorsement, intended or not.

On Friday, USA Today entertainment reporter Donna Freydkin got the ball rolling when she tweeted her disgust over a news release she'd just received from the venerable fashion house, Valentino:

Just got a press release naming the handbag Amy Adams was carrying while in NYC for PSH's funeral. #tasteless #ew

— Donna Freydkin (@freydkin) February 7, 2014

The New York Post reported that Valentino reps had emailed fashion bloggers and journalists photos of Adams carrying one of the fashion house's popular studded handbags on her way to the memorial service. Adams, the paper noted, had co-starred with Hoffman in last year's Oscar-nominated "The Master."

According to the New York Post, the release trumpeted: “We are pleased to announce Amy Adams carrying the Valentino Garavani Rockstud Double bag from the Spring/Summer 2014 collection on February 6th in New York.”

Well, that certainly is tacky. At least they didn't say where she was headed. And for all we know, the celebrated fashion house didn't quite realize that Adams was en route to a memorial service, although that strains credulity.

[Updated 3:37 p.m. PST Feb. 7: Friday afternoon, Valentino spokeswoman Mona Swanson conveyed this apology: "We sincerely regret releasing a photo to the media this morning of Amy Adams with a Valentino Bag. We were not aware the photograph was taken while she was attending the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was an innocent mistake and we apologize to Ms. Adams who was not aware, or a part of, our PR efforts."]

But don't forget: This is the industry that gave us "heroin chic," the aesthetic that implicitly celebrated addiction, as it portrayed emaciated models looking like they'd just shot up. Except that unlike most junkies, they wore some of the most expensive sportswear in the world.

So we shouldn't expect too much from the fashion world, which lives to promote itself by showering overpaid celebrities with free gifts so that they may be photographed wearing the loot.

But perhaps there's a lesson for celebrities here: If you don't want fashion houses to send out news releases trumpeting your fashion choices, then don't accept free $2,000 handbags. Or at least don't wear your loot to paparazzi-friendly funerals.


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