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What to Watch: Celebrity Connections

Hollywood’s obsession with lingerie kicked into high gear this year and even more deals are anticipated in 2005.

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Hollywood’s obsession with lingerie kicked into high gear this year, and even more deals are anticipated in 2005.

Tinseltown met Seventh Avenue with high-profile names from the music, TV and movie industries, helping to create a new genre of celebrity lingerie: JLo Lingerie by Jennifer Lopez at The Warnaco Group; Pamela Anderson Intimates at Vandale Industries; Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson, whose Elle Macpherson Intimates collection will make its debut in North America in spring 2005, and Jessica Simpson, whose multilevel master licensing deal with JS Brand Management is expected to include intimate apparel for the back-to-school season.

Adding to the demand for celebrity-status undergarments are other sex symbols. They include Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Smith, Jaime Pressly, supermodel-turned-actress Rachel Hunter, and seductive songstress Christina Aguilera, who are shopping for intimate deals, according to licensors and manufacturers.

Robert Stone, president of StoneAmerica Licensing, said actress Amanda Bynes, who starred in “What a Girl Wants” and “Big Fat Liar,” is among the newest players angling for a celebrity licensing franchise. “She’s looking to expand her name with fashion apparel in the junior market to midtier and better department stores. We’re looking to co-brand her name with a designer,” said Stone, noting that bodywear and active-related separates are planned.

Neal Hamil, executive vice president of Ford Models, said there is an insatiable appetite for licenses for women’s lingerie and men’s underwear that have a star quality.

“Lingerie is still a very hot area for sexy supermodels, actors and athletes,’’ Hamil said. “I do not see that ever changing. They just look great in their BVDs, and their fans identify with them and want to emulate them. It’s the same concept as fragrance and athletic gear.

“There are Ford clients who are very interested in the lingerie arena,” Hamil said. “Rachel Hunter has a new licensing deal in the U.K. called Ultima, and after ‘Gilligan’s Island’ [a new reality show] in which she plays Ginger, there should be additional interest in her in the U.S. market. Lindsay Lohan would be a natural for this category as she has such a beautiful face and figure. And as far as Paris Hilton goes, she’s still interested. The kid is an industry.”

This story first appeared in the December 6, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Regarding Ford’s roster of male clients who are seeking a lingerie liaison, Hamil said, Marcus Schenkenburg is also a natural. Our newest client, super sexy tennis star Mark Philippoussis — ‘The Scud’ — is perfect as well. He has launched his own line of men’s wear in his native Australia under the MP label, and an underwear collection is planned.”

While there is hunger for celebrity-status pacts, a new twist is taking shape for celebrity-linked lingerie: the entertainment diva spokeswoman. The idea took off in 2002 when Queen Latifah ignited lingerie exposure for full-figured women as the spokeswoman for the Curvation bra brand by VF Corp. The idea expanded this year at Calvin Klein Underwear, which commissioned Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank to star in ads for the Calvin Klein Sensual Shapers line.

The new face for the Calvin Klein Underwear spring 2005 men’s underwear ad campaign is U.K. soccer player Freddie Ljungberg, whose first campaign for fall 2003 was to launch Calvin Klein Pro Stretch underwear. Warnaco is considering casting its Speedo spokesman, Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, in ads for its new Fastskin by Speedo men’s underwear line. 

Sara Lee Corp. has pushed the celebrity connection further this fall with four high-octane names to sell its lingerie: Jenny Garth, spokeswoman for Hanes Pure Bliss daywear and underwear and co-star of the Warner Bros. TV series “What I Like About You;” Stacy London, Bali bra spokeswoman and TV show host of TLC’s “What Not to Wear;” TV Guide Network’s celebrity style consultant Melissa Rivers, who is also a spokeswoman for Playtex’s TGIF bra brand, and “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul, who did a Barely There Tagfree promotion during fashion week.

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