By  on September 16, 2005

NEW YORK — Talk about a letdown.

Several hours before the scheduled press conference at the New York Public Library about the blockbuster liaison between Angelina Jolie and St. John, the company canceled the event, later issuing a two-page press release about the new deal.

In the morning, Richard Cohen, chief executive officer of St. John, put out a short statement saying, "After a great deal of consideration, we have decided to cancel our press conference. The sheer volume of requests to attend makes it impossible for us to announce this in a restrained, intelligent way."

St. John officials were said to be concerned the press conference was going to turn into a media circus since many news outlets who were told they wouldn't be let in planned to crash it anyway.

In the afternoon, St. John issued another press release confirming the Jolie deal. An impending agreement between the actress and the fashion company was first reported by WWD on Tuesday.

The deal is expected to position the Oscar-winning actress as both the face of St. John the brand and the voice behind its newly formed charity created in support of children's issues and causes.

Known for her edginess and unorthodox personality, Jolie is a provocative choice for the brand, which has built its 40-year reputation on dressing the Ladies Who Lunch. The company has repeatedly said it wants to attract a younger and wider customer base, and this is apparently being viewed as a significant step in that direction.

The company declined comment on the terms of her contract, but sources said Jolie could receive as much as $12 million for her modeling work for St. John over the next several years, that she's expected to reap a percentage of the revenues and that she would join St. John's board.

Getting St. John on the red carpet has been a goal of the brand for many years, but sources indicated she probably won't have to wear St. John exclusively.

Cohen, who had flown in for the press conference Wednesday afternoon and was flying back to California on Thursday, couldn't be reached for comment. In a statement, he said, "Angelina Jolie embodies so many qualities of what St. John represents. She is strong, independent and dynamic. She's a mother, actress and a philanthropist. With this partnership, we hope to mark another exciting step toward making St. John the ultimate American luxury brand."

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