By  on June 16, 2005

NEW YORK — Entertainment diva Queen Latifah is expanding her role in the world of lingerie as a creative consultant for design, packaging, advertising and marketing of the $100 million Curvation brand at VF Intimates.

The Grammy Award winner and Academy Award nominee will appear today at a media event at the VF Intimates offices here to discuss her "love of intimate apparel" and her partnership with the full-busted Curvation bra and shapewear brand, for which she has been a spokeswoman since 2002.

As part of an exclusive contract, which VF executives believe could have the potential to last 21 years, Latifah will continue to appear in consumer advertising, but for the first time, her image will appear on Curvation packaging and point-of-sale materials. The contract, which comprises seven three-year agreements, also includes apparel and accessories products bearing the Queen Latifah name and image.

The brand is sold at Wal-Mart, Kmart and ShopKo stores, addressing a hip, fashion-conscious, full-busted customer, Latifah told WWD Wednesday. In addition to hosting the Curvation event and a photo shoot for Curvation products this week, Latifah said she was here to wrap up a photo shoot for Covergirl cosmetics and a shoot for the annual music edition of Vanity Fair magazine in November.

"That old term, 'full-figured' — we don't give that any credence anymore, and 60 million women agree with me," said Latifah, who wears sewn-in strapless Curvation bras underneath evening gowns and sewn-in Curvation bras underneath blouses. "This is all about being sexy, beautiful and confident, whether it's looking sporty or dressy. Women don't want to be buying a big piece of fabric that's cut all wrong."

She was referring to 60 million American women who wear a dress size 14 and over, according to NPDFashionworld data.

Regarding her creative input, Latifah, who works with Curvation's director of merchandising, Berna Goldstein, said: "I want to bring Curvation to the people. Just because it has the Queen Latifah name on it, doesn't mean it will automatically sell. I want to make sure it's a quality product women want to wear. We're all collaborating on this project. Part of being a good partner is knowing when to listen and not demand. I'm willing to learn and VF definitely knows what it's doing when it comes to apparel."The actress, who has starred in films including "Bringing Down the House" and "Beauty Shop" and was nominated for best supporting actress in "Chicago," said she acquired her marketing skills with her business partner and their company, Flavor Unit Entertainment.

"We've marketed half of our movies," she said. "Marketing is something we've always connected to the street, whether it's someone who makes $25,000 or $250,000."

"The idea of confidence" is the marketing platform for the Curvation brand and product, she said, adding, "Confidence is very important to me, and that's part of the reason Curvation wanted to work with me, because I've always tried to carry myself in a confident way."

Latifah will be taking Curvation's aspirational initiative to a new level at the Sugar Water Festival, which kicks off July 8 in Virginia Beach, Va. It includes musical artists Erykah Badu and Jill Scott and will be staged in 20 cities before concluding in Los Angeles on Aug. 10. There also will be a nationwide search called The Curvation Project Confidence Awards to recognize women who personify the power of confidence, she said.

"It's about women who make a difference in other women's lives and their own lives," she said. "To participate, they can log on to the curvation.com Web site and write stuff on the Curvation Nation blog. The Confidence Awards will take place in early 2006."

As for VF's 21-year commitment, Kurt A. Holtz, president of the VF Intimates Coalition, said, "This long-term commitment is a sign we are extremely confident with the Curvation brand and Queen Latifah. We've set up a structure to maximize that opportunity well into the future."

Anne Jardine, vice president of VF Intimates business development, said, "We believe this has global potential. We've had tremendous interest in the concept outside of the U.S. It's not just about a bra or a panty. The concept is wrapped up in a wonderful language for curvaceous women."

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