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Fergie’s Bold Point of View

The Black Eyed Peas singer talks Avon, launching her fragrance, fashion and more.

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WWDStyle issue 04/08/2011

For pop icon Fergie, 2011 is all about out with the old, in with the new.

This story first appeared in the April 8, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Black Eyed Peas front woman and Avon spokeswoman is gearing up to introduce her second fragrance, Outspoken Intense, a scent blended to capture the adrenaline she feels before stepping out on stage. “It’s about owning that moment,” said Fergie.

Just how does Fergie, a fireball of energy, amp up for the stage? “Green tea,” she told WWD. “When I’m getting ready for a performance, it’s very calm.…I like to exude everything that I have on the stage.” Referring to her fragrance, she said, “It’s really right before I go on [stage] that my heart starts beating faster. The adrenaline kicks in. That’s the feeling.”

Her first scent, Outspoken, shattered Avon records. “It was the single largest fragrance [launch] we’ve had in the company’s history,” said Andrea Jung, Avon Products Inc.’s chairman and chief executive officer. And the company expects the upcoming scent to unseat Outspoken as a bestseller. After all, Fergie is accustomed to breaking records, having shattered several on the Billboard charts.

“I love this scent,” said Fergie. “I’m actually starting to like it more than Outspoken. My mom does as well.”

Outspoken Intense, described as a fruity floral, was developed by International Flavors & Fragrances and is comprised, in part, of star fruit and kumquat. “My dad used to grow kumquats and peel them for me,” said Fergie. She also developed an affinity for star fruit while hotel-hopping on tour in Asia, where she was welcome with a plate of freshly sliced star fruit. “I love the fruity notes,” she said.

The fragrance will be available beginning in July for $30. A TV spot — featuring a cut from “Beautiful Dangerous,” Fergie’s collaboration with Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash —will air in select markets.

The ultrapetite songstress bounded into in small gathering of beauty editors on Wednesday with the same gusto and energy she exuded later in the day when strutting onto the stage at Madison Square Garden in front of 5,000 Avon direct-sales representatives, who leapt to their feet and hooted and hollered in excitement upon seeing her. The gathering marked the New York City stop of the company’s global 16-city “Avon Believe World Tour,” a yearlong celebration to fete Avon’s 125 years. The decibel of noise in the arena rose even higher when Jung pointed out that Fergie’s husband, actor Josh Duhamel, was sitting in the audience. (Duhamel also showed support for his wife during a photo shoot earlier that day by remarking, “She’s really good at this,” as she confidently moved from one pose to the next.)

Inside the arena, as representatives waved pom-poms, clapped and cheered, Fergie thanked the crowd for making Outspoken Avon’s best-selling scent. “You guys went out there and did the work. Thank you so much for kicking butt for me,” she said.

Fergie surprised Jung and the representatives present by singing a sultry, rocker-meets-Marilyn Monroe-esque “Happy Birthday” to Avon.

Before her onstage appearance, Fergie talked with WWD about her plans for the year ahead and how she’s attempting to nab some more downtown after spending most of 2010 on tour with the Black Eyed Peas. “They knew I needed a break and for it not to be so hectic, and they’ve been respectful of that.”

She’s using the extra time at home for a grand spring cleaning project.

“I’ve gotten to clean out some of my closets, which has been kind of an emotional letting go,” she said. “I just went through my tennis shoe collection, which was big. It was like saying good-bye to all my old friends.” Referring to her earlier days with the Black Eyed Peas, she said, “I had a little bit of a sneaker fetish, especially for Jordans. I didn’t get rid of any of my Air Jordans.” Scarfs and her coveted collection of heels were also part of her closet purge. “I’m kind of a Carrie Bradshaw in that way. ‘Hello lovers!,” she said, mimicking the “Sex and the City” character’s salutation to her shoes. “I really enjoy purging my closet because I’m finding pieces that I’d forgotten about. I’m going, ‘This is Gaultier. Why is this in the back of my closet folded up in a corner? It should be in the front row!’”

Once the clothes leave her closet, her mother, sister and cousins have first dibs, and sift through the pieces in a guest room that Fergie’s temporarily dubbed “The Purge Room.”

“There is a rule: Once it’s in the room I don’t get it back. I’ve already made the decision to let it go.”

She attributes her overflowing closets to being fearful that one day all the success and all the fame may go poof. “A lot of it has never been worn. I was just keeping it because when I was really little, I got clothes from the church. So for me it was about thinking it’s all going to end.…I had to really take myself out of that mentality.”

For a celebrity so candid about overcoming obstacles, especially addictions, she’s determined to move forward, including with this project.

“Now that I’m purging and my closet looks amazing, I’m splurging!”

On her wish list are fake fur coats from Anna Sui and Altuzarra’s neon belts. “I think people are ready to take the neon plunge, because I definitely am.”

And downtime is not all that common. Between promoting the Black Eyed Peas’ new album “The Beginning” and appearances at the Super Bowl and the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, Fergie is busy fronting her Avon fragrances and its Advance Techniques hair care range, and designing her shoe collection with Brown Shoe Co.

As for if she’d consider adding a fashion line to her creative endeavors, she said, “Possibly. You never know. It’s all about expression… I would need time to focus, because I get a little obsessed.”

Fergie’s connection goes beyond beauty with Avon, which has raised more than $800 million for women’s causes, including breast cancer research. The singer said her grandmother lost her battle with cancer two years ago, and her mother and father are cancer survivors.

Jung said that since Avon took on the breast cancer cause in 1992, representatives have sold 70 million pink ribbon products.

The atmosphere and energy in the arena, as well as Jung’s prowess at revving up the crowd, made the event seem more like a presidential nominating convention. Colorful lights swept across the stage, tear-jerking videos played, motivational speeches were given, Believe logos were prominently displayed and songs were belted as representatives cheered along.

Jung enthusiastically declared to the audience that Avon has more than $10 billion in annual revenue and is five times larger than its direct competitor, the Dallas-based Mary Kay, which elicited a thunder of applause from the audience. “They may hear you in Dallas,” said Jung. She noted that collectively Avon’s representatives earn about $4.8 billion, which is larger than some well-known global companies. She also hinted at upcoming products to drive up their average order sizes, including a skin care product that uses a “Fountain of Youth molecule,” and the mom and baby care line, Tiny Tillia. “Women spend two times more on their baby than they do on their beauty,” said Jung.

Both initiatives are slated for the fourth quarter.

Jung and Fergie spoke of Avon Voices, a global singing and songwriting contest tied to the company’s 125th anniversary celebration.

Fergie will help judge the competition. She reminded the crowd voting begins April 22 and said more than 6,000 videos have been sent in. “These singers are amazing. And I think I’m a pretty good judge — I hope.”

 

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