Before it goes public on Wall Street, Frederick's of Hollywood marched into Tinseltown's spotlight last week with two nights of events for the company's fourth annual Lingerie Art Auction.
Chief executive officer Linda LoRe said the splash would help get the word out about the lingerie retailer before its public offering later this year. The Los Angeles-based company and New York-based manufacturer Movie Star Inc. revealed plans last December to merge in a stock transaction.
"We are in a different place — it is time to step up and raise awareness," said LoRe, comparing the auction to previous years. "We want people to realize that we are the company behind the product that believes not only in the fashion world, but also in teaming up with charities."
Various celebrities — from actresses Penélope Cruz, Eva Longoria and Scarlett Johansson to singers Gwen Stefani, Mary J. Blige and Beyoncé — designed 40 corsets for the occasion. Proceeds from the corset auction, which was conducted live and silently on Thursday and online beginning Friday, go to Clothes Off Our Back. It's an organization founded by husband-and-wife actor and philanthropist team Bradley Whitford of "West Wing" fame and Jane Kaczmarek of TV sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" that puts celebrity attire up for bid to support children's causes.
"It is a wonderful collaboration," said Kaczmarek. "Frederick's makes beautiful clothes you wear underneath and Clothes Off Our Back sells clothes celebrities wear on the outside."
The seven corsets auctioned live garnered $59,800 for Clothes Off Our Back, with burlesque artist Dita Von Teese's feathered and crystal-covered corset fetching the highest price of $20,000. A silent auction took place with 12 corsets, including a Kyra Sedgwick design strewn with political messages, a white weaved style by Lucy Liu and a jackpot-themed corset by Camryn Manheim.
"I thought, why don't I make something similar to the one I wear onstage?" asked Von Teese, referring to a $30,000 corset she sported in "The Bird of Paradise" stage show she performed the prior evening. "The person who buys it can have a little bit of me."
Marie Antoinette inspired Kaczmarek, whose corset raked in $6,500. "It looks like what [she] would wear before she got her head chopped off," she joked.On the first day of the two-day affair on Wednesday, the star wattage was supercharged at the Hollywood Palladium, a historic theater that showcased a fashion show with 40 looks, eight of which were celebrity-designed corsets and the remainder from Frederick's spring collection. There also was a surprise concert by the Foo Fighters. Among those in the audience were Jessica Simpson, Amanda Bynes, Becki Newton, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens.
The celebrity attention and subsequent press coverage is generating buzz as Frederick's heads into its next chapter on the American Stock Exchange and rolls out 50 stores in 24 months. Last year, LoRe estimated the publicity sparked by the event was worth $3 million in advertising equivalency, an amount that could be surpassed this time.
Frederick's operates 130 stores nationwide. The company's net sales were $155.2 million in the fiscal year ended July 28, while Movie Star's net sales totaled $63.5 million in the fiscal year ended June 30. The combined businesses are to be called Frederick's of Hollywood Group Inc.
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