NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Angelina Jolie, fashion muse?
The much second-guessed decision to tap the Oscar-wining actress and global activist as the face of St. John might not be so easily dismissed after all. In fact, Jolie appears to have inspired parts of the $400 million fashion house's pre-fall and fall collections, which were shown here Friday in a tent at the Island Hotel for about 350 loyal fans. The show marked the return of the St. John cult-like event after a two-year hiatus.
"It's been wonderful having Angelina as a muse. We've gone a little more directional with a short silver dress, a white wrap top, the soft dressing, the little cropped jacket over a dress. All those things are key pieces for us. For me, that was pivotal to move the collection forward," said Kelly Gray, who returned to the company last fall, along with her mother, Marie Gray, to work as a creative consultant. "It's exciting to have a little bit of a muse to play with that percentage of the line where you want to reach out to a different customer, and yet we still have plenty of things for our loyal customers."
Gray summed up the Irvine, company's m.o. for the past year following a tumultuous 18-month period that included the appointment and resignation of chief executive officer Richard Cohen and creative director Tim Gardner, and the departure of the Grays, chief operating officer Bruce Fetter and senior designer Maria D. Lopez. Fetter has since returned as chief operating officer and this month took up the interim ceo role from Phillip Miller, and Lopez has also returned as vice president of design.
Ironically, though he was blamed for changing the product too drastically, slipping sales and the departure of hundreds of employees, Cohen was responsible for hiring Jolie with a multimillion-dollar, multiyear contract. For the past three seasons, the black-and-white Mario Testino-shot print ads, directed by the Lipman Agency of New York, have featured Jolie's face prominently, but little was seen of the clothes. This season, according to Kelly Gray, the ads, which were shot in Beverly Hills by Testino last week and will break in August magazines, will have a different focus.
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