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NEW YORK — After a year hawking her proprietary line of lingerie, actress Jaime Pressly is on the prowl for a lingerie deal with a major manufacturer.
The 5-foot-5-inch bombshell, whose entertainment portfolio includes cameos this year in biker thrillers like Warner Bros.’ “Torque” and TNT’s “Evel Knievel,” said she hopes to expand her lingerie business, which is produced in-house under the J’aime by Jaime Pressly name, into an apparel and accessories franchise.
That idea appears to be the flavor of the day in the world of celebrity products because of the impact of high-powered names in the intimate apparel arena, such as JLo Lingerie by Jennifer Lopez at The Warnaco Group and Pamela Anderson Intimates at Vandale Industries. And some believe that’s just the icing on the cake, with other entertainment divas like Christina Aguilera and Anna Nicole Smith shopping around for intimate deals.
In another celebrity-lingerie related development, “American Idol” judge and singer Paula Abdul has been commissioned by Sara Lee Corp. to introduce the first tag-free bra collection by Barely There on Sept. 8, the opening day of Fashion Week here at Bryant Park.
Pressly first launched her eponymous line of lingerie and sleepwear in August 2003 at a party and fashion show for 2,500 guests at The Palms in Las Vegas. It was featured as part of a formal fashion show in October 2003 during L.A. Fashion Week. Wholesale prices start at $10 for underwear and go to $100 for sleepgowns.
As to why Pressly started out with lingerie and not ready-to-wear, she told WWD: “I really love lingerie. I’m someone who has to be in high heels and uncomfortable things all the time. You have to bear pain to be beautiful. I feel lingerie is a big hassle. Pretty stuff is so uncomfortable. I hate built-in boobs. That’s why I wanted to design lingerie that is comfortable.”
Pressly got the idea to do her own lingerie on the set of “Torque.” She said, “I was this chopper girl and had to be laced into this black biker suit that felt like a straitjacket girdle. I was sitting in wardrobe and started sketching. How are you going to ride a bike without comfortable lingerie?”
She declined to disclose sales figures of her intimate line. According to industry estimates, first-year wholesale volume is estimated at more than $500,000. The line is sold to several hundred specialty and department stores.
Pressly said she is negotiating a lingerie pact with several “public and private” innerwear companies, and anticipates closing a deal before Christmas. She would not identify the companies, but in an e-mail to prospective licensors in June, the list of candidates included Sara Lee Corp., Kellwood Co., Tommy Hilfiger Corp., Bonjour Corp., Mecca USA, NAP Inc. and Pegasus Investors.
In the meantime, Pressly hasn’t wasted any time broadening the scope of her ambitious fashion plans. Her company, J’aime Productions Inc., has signed a licensing agreement with Manhattan-based fine jewelry maker Avianne & Co. to produce a collection of upscale watches bearing the J’aime Avianne name. The line will be introduced at major department and specialty stores for holiday gift-giving, and will retail from $1,200 to $22,000 for diamond-encrusted, “bling-inspired” watches, said Gabriel Nektalov, an owner of Avianne. First-year wholesale volume is projected between $4 million and $5 million, said Nektalov, noting distribution will be expanded to 10,000 fine jewelry stores the second year.
After the first year, he expects wholesale volume will increase to $6 million to $10 million. He added the budget for a first-year marketing and advertising campaign, which will feature Pressly’s image in national print and outdoor ads, will be close to $1 million.
Pressly said she already has ideas for a multimillion-dollar ad campaign for her first lingerie licensee. However, she said she will most likely not be featured in her lingerie ads. “I don’t have a problem doing a tasteful shot in lingerie as long as it doesn’t show too much skin,’’ she said. “But I don’t need to do the lingerie ads, either.”
Assessing the fashion-celebrity union, Pressly, who has also garnered fame as a burlesque dancer in The Pussycat Dolls, a neo-cabaret girly revue in Hollywood that has featured celebrities such as Christina Applegate, Gwen Stefani and Alicia Silverstone, said breaking into the fashion business is “just as sleazy as the entertainment business.”
“I grew up in the real Dawson’s Creek in Kinston, N.C., and have been on my own since I was 15. When I was a kid I wanted to go to FIT. But in the [entertainment] business I’m in, I’m around fashion all of the time and I absorb it,” Pressly said. “We’re very close to licensing everything — lingerie, accessories, rtw and children’s wear. But that whole negotiating thing is such a bitch. The whole garment industry is very tricky and quite sleazy.”
Regarding her latest acting project, Pressly said she is about to finish an independent film, “Venus in Vegas,” with Molly Sims and Danny DeVito.
“I’m Tara, this girl in Vegas. She’s someone you’re not sure what she does. She dates men for the money, sugar daddies, but she’s not a hooker. People ask her how do you get all that bling, because they never see her go to work,” said Pressly, showing off an oversized logoed diamond necklace given to her by Avianne the morning the deal was consummated last Tuesday.