By and  on February 22, 2005

Pretty Young Things Sell Beauty and Business Better.

A publicist from a major European fashion house once called with a telling request: Could we please run a red-carpet image of a teen star draped in its gown rather than the middle-aged celebrity who’d also appeared at the awards show in one of its dresses?

It seems the head of the venerable house, who is up there in years, figured the association with this pretty, young actress would do more for his brand’s image than a legion of thirty- and fortysomething superstars ever could.

Such a request isn’t unusual. In this second annual issue of WWDYoung Hollywood, Women’s Wear Daily editors in Los Angeles and New York go inside the worlds of film, TV and music to report how its youthful denizens are using image to influence their opportunities, both in terms of screen roles and business ventures — especially in fashion and beauty. And just as enthusiastically, fashion and beauty brands are increasingly vying for very public associations with young Hollywood. Like it or not, youth, or the effort to retain it, remains a powerful concern and — maybe even more than fame and fortune — an aspirational goal for the consuming public.

Cashing in on that power are the multifariously talented teens and twentysomethings — Hilary Duff, Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears — who aren’t waiting for their careers to wane before tapping every possibility. Studying the tremendous success of an icon such as Elizabeth Taylor — not to mention their peers Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen — they and their handlers are brokering deals with beauty brands at an unprecedented

rate. But it’s not just about flogging fragrances in print ads. These barely legal entrepreneurs also want a piece of the process, making key decisions in everything from product development to marketing campaigns.

And many are learning a lesson or two from their predecessors — or inventing new rules of their own — in the image game of playing bad girl-good girl. In “Quick-Change Artists,” guest reporter Leslie Gornstein explores how more and more young celebrities are going from virgin to vixen and back again in a snap, banking on the media exposure and subsequent public awareness they get from just changing their look.

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