The Italian Job

Beyonce shines as the spokesmodel for Emporio Armani's Diamonds fragrance.

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WWD Music issue 08/30/2007

As the face of Emporio Armani’s newest women’s fragrance, Beyoncé Knowles is hoping consumers make Diamonds their new best friend.

Knowles has long been a player in the beauty business. In February 2001, she inked a deal with L’Oréal Paris and then joined the Estée Lauder Cos. in January 2004 as the face of Tommy Hilfiger’s True Star fragrance.

This story first appeared in the August 30, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

But even she never imagined one day meeting Giorgio Armani, let alone representing his high-end fashion powerhouse.

“I’m so proud to be the face of the new fragrance,” says Knowles, who made an August appearance at the Macy’s Herald Square store in New York in support of her first scent, Diamonds. “When I was 15, I put on my first Armani suit, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve made it. I’m touching Armani.’ It was the most exciting thing in the world for me and now, 10 years later, here I am partnering with Armani.”

According to Knowles, the new fragrance empowers women to be more independent.

“I love that Diamonds represents the strength and confidence of the modern-day woman, who can actually afford her own diamonds,” says the singer, who recorded her own version of the classic “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” for the television ad campaign.

Knowles has been giving the fragrance a test run, sporting Diamonds around town the last two months.

“I love it because it’s very sensual, and it makes me feel really confident. I’ve never gotten so many compliments on a fragrance. I feel my sexiest when I take a shower at the end of a long day, and I have on my pajamas and my fragrance. I can go to bed and smell like Diamonds, and I love that,” says Knowles, who added that boyfriend Jay-Z is a big fan of the scent.

Even with the looks of a beauty queen, Knowles’ daily beauty routine is surprisingly low maintenance.

“Because I spend so much time getting my hair and makeup done, I don’t like spending too much time primping.” She says she spends about five minutes in the morning and evening washing her face. “I do a little concealer and gloss and keep it moving. Anything that’s quick and easy is the best for me because I work so much.”

While Knowles’ onstage wardrobe and makeup may be elaborate, an average day finds her wearing an understated pair of pants and a blouse.

“I go all out on stage, spending about an hour and a half on hair and makeup. People go to see a show to see a superstar, so I like everything to be very glamorous and over-the-top, but still timeless and classic.”

It’s a look she says is inspired by iconic performers from the past. “Marilyn Monroe always wore dresses that accentuated her curves, and her color choices were always very feminine. Tina Turner had her short dresses with fringes, and all her garments reflected the way she performed. You could tell she thought about what she was going to wear. And Diana Ross was really glamorous. I had the time of my life dressing in some of those clothes in ‘Dreamgirls.'”

In her free time, Knowles listens to artists like Kelly Rowland, John Legend, John Mayer, Sade and Aretha Franklin. “I love listening to soul and any music that takes me to another place and relaxes me, especially when I’m about to take the stage.”

Surprisingly, the accomplished performer rarely sings by herself — not even in the shower. “I’m too shy to sing for pure pleasure, even by myself. It’s like I start singing, and then I get embarrassed.”

As her six-month tour winds down next month, Knowles will be busy promoting her first Spanish album, “Irreemplazable,” which was released on Tuesday. The eight-track Spanish version of select songs from her Grammy-winning album “B’Day” was a challenge for Knowles, who doesn’t speak Spanish. But with the help of producer Rudy Perez, she nailed the songs — and the accent — breaking down each lyric phrase by phrase.

The project is the result of fan requests for a Spanish release. “I was a little intimidated because I don’t speak the language, but my dad encouraged me to do it. All of my Latino fans are so excited, and I’m very grateful I’ve been so embraced by the whole culture. I’m really excited to be able to cross barriers.”

Even with her tour, the album and the fragrance deal, Knowles is already itching to get back into the studio and begin work on a new album she hopes to release by next summer. “I have so many ideas in my head that I’m going to go crazy if I don’t get into the studio and start working on them,” says the star, adding she will consider doing more film only after she’s completed work on another album.

For more news on Beyoncé, visit here.

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