NEW YORK — “She’s seductive, she’s raw,” said Donna Karan, describing Cate Blanchett in the designer’s spring advertising campaign.

In her second season modeling for Karan’s Collection, the actress was photographed by Mikael Jansson outside Rome. Having just completed the filming of “Aviator,” the Howard Hughes story in which she plays Katherine Hepburn, Blanchett requested that the shoot take place there.

“Donna wanted it to look like New Mexico, but Cate was in Rome,” said Trey Laird, partner in Laird + Partners, Karan’s ad agency. He said the location scouts found a rock quarry 45 minutes outside of Rome, which closely resembled a desert.

“Donna’s collection was about a rawness, with copper desert colors and woven leathers; it was very sensual,” said Laird. “[The photography] captures that sensuality. The makeup is steamy and raw, and her hair is a little disheveled.”

“It’s not about sex,” added Karan. “It’s definitely about the woman and her ease in the clothes.” She said the images “show Cate’s body and reflect her confidence in being a woman. It’s not ‘Do Not Touch Me.’” (Blanchett has a three-season contract with Karan).

Karan said she worked with several artists for spring who gave her clothing a hand-touched quality. For instance, many of the looks were handwoven or hand-stitched and had an artisan feeling about them. Karan, in fact, writes about several of these artists in her magazine, “Woman to Woman,” that will be sent next month to 30,000 customers.

Patti Cohen, executive vice president of global marketing and communications for DKI declined to reveal the spring advertising budget, but said it was flat for spring. For the first half of 2003, DKI spent $10.4 million in the U.S. on media alone for all its campaigns, according to TMS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Gatefolds will run in the March issues of Vanity Fair and W (a sister publication of WWD; both it and VF are owned by Advance Publications). Ads also will appear in Vogue (another Advance title), Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Town & Country, The New York Times Magazine and Interview. Internationally, they will run in British Vogue, French Vogue and Italian Vogue.

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