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NEW YORK — “I wouldn’t call her a classic beauty. She’s beyond a classic beauty. She has an identity, an intelligence and a soul to me,” said Donna Karan of Cate Blanchett.

Karan is clearly tickled about her newest campaign model, who will star for three seasons in her Collection ads, beginning this fall.

This story first appeared in the July 11, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“She’s as beautiful in person as on the screen,” said Karan, who went shopping with Blanchett after the shoot. Karan wasn’t on the set during the two-day photo session because it didn’t fit into her schedule.

“I don’t go on shoots,” said the designer.

“If she did, we’d still be shooting fall 1988,” quipped Trey Laird, president and executive creative director of Laird & Partners, Karan’s ad agency.

In developing her fall campaign, Karan had such movies as “Blade Runner” and “The Matrix” in mind. She wanted to portray a modern, urban scene with futuristic overtones. “We wanted it sexual, organic, industrial and body-conscious at the same time,” said Karan. Furthermore, she said, “We wanted to show a woman on the go. She’s got power and she’s modern.”

Although they wanted to do the shoot in New York, Blanchett was completing a Ron Howard movie, “The Missing,” in Santa Fe, so they decided to meet in Los Angeles. Mikael Jansson photographed Blanchett in an airport hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, in a car and in an abandoned printing factory in downtown L.A.

“That’s my favorite shot,” said Karan, pointing to a photo of Blanchett in the designer’s black jersey “goddess” gown, accessorized by a Robert Lee Morris silver keyhole. The 34-year-old Australian actress looks striking in such looks as Karan’s black jumpsuit and cashmere jersey top; sequin scoopneck flirty dress; matte jersey dress with leather ties, and metallic bouclé jacket and bandage skirt.

Armed with a fall media budget that’s 10 percent larger than last year, Karan has produced a 24-page onsert that will be polybagged with the September W. Eight-page portfolios will run in Vogue and Vanity Fair, and four-page units will appear in Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Times Magazine and Fashions of the Times. A gatefold also will run in V. Spreads and singles will appear in Town & Country, Departures and Harpers & Queen in the U.K.

Karan officials declined to reveal the fall budget. However, in the second half of 2002, Karan spent $3.2 million on media for Donna Karan women’s and men’s collections and licensed Karan products, excluding fragrances, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

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