“All My Children” devotees knew Susan Lucci as a true femme fatale, but the actress has proved to be even more limber with a new activewear line launching today on QVC.
Becoming more athletically inclined for the cameras wasn’t something the actress just picked up. More than 20 years have passed since she first start practicing Pilates. Around that time she switched from mat Pilates to using the Life’s a Beach Inc. Pilates Pro Chair, a device that she has sold on QVC, along with other exercise equipment. “Just before I went to do ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ this Pilates Pro Chair came into my life. Timing being everything, that was perfect. I knew I had to take the Pilates I was doing and maximize it to take it to the next level,” she said.
Asked about why she resonates so well with viewers, Lucci said, “I do feel that they know that I’m authentic. I wear what I say I’m going to give you to wear. I do what I say I’m doing. Both the Pro Chair and now the activewear have been fan-driven. I think the audience can feel that I’m really speaking from my own personal experience and my belief in what I’m telling them is authentic and passionate. That’s what I think they can identify with, as well as the look. All of us want to look our best and to feel good while looking your best. Those are two wonderful things and they give you confidence.”
After QVC fans started asking about her on-air activewear via social media, she floated the prospect of a signature label by the shopping platform’s executives. While the eight-piece collection is designed to stand up in the gym, it is also meant to be versatile enough to wear on the street. Lucci’s shiny black leggings are so leather-like that she now prefers to pack these lightweight options in her carry-on for travel rather than real leather pants.
“You could work out in these, run errands, go day-to-night, which is so important because we’re all so busy. You can put on a pair of stilettos, boots or whatever you choose to dress it up. Put on a pair of earrings and you’re good to go to dinner. And I have,” she said.
Having appeared on ABC’s soap opera from start to finish — a 41-year undertaking — Lucci has gleaned her share of style tips. “Something that I have learned and have been mindful of putting together this line of activewear is that the silhouette should be lengthening. We want to have a long, lean silhouette. That’s what we’re after when we’re working out,” she said. “I’m 5’2” on a good day. Even if you’re 6’2”, I think we all want to make the most of the length of our legs. This allows you to maximize the best of how you look while you’re on your way to achieving the body you’re after and your fitness goals.”
Designed with a wide-set band, the leggings are meant to be comfortable to wear and to the touch. Sounding very QVC-friendly, Lucci said, “Nothing digs in. It’s figure-flattering, the fabric is such that it holds you in place. I’m even going to say it does a little lifting where the lifting is necessary until you get to the place where your body is actually lifted.”
Retail prices range from $45 to $70. QVC’s vice president of buying for fashion Rachel Ungaro described the collaboration as “very organic. She was here one day selling the Pilates Pro Chair. I went down to her green room and we just sat down and talked about what she loves to wear while she works out and all the things that are really important to her. We have an amazing internal design team here that quickly pulled together a great line with a lot of Susan’s influence.”
Available in sizes triple small through triple large, the collection is priced between $45 and $70 to be as attainable size-wise as its price-wise. There are also coordinating jackets with details, so that shoppers “look put-together. You don’t look like you just rolled out of bed even if you are doing the Pro Chair in your bedroom,” Lucci said. “As I walk around the QVC studios and hallways, it’s created quite a stir and oh my goodness, I am so flattered.”
The Emmy-winning actress learned from such pros as costume designers David Zyla and Michael Woll. Bergdorf Goodman’s Betty Halbreich is another favorite. “For many, many years Erica’s wardrobe was bought from Bergdorf’s. I had many meetings with Betty and our costume designer. I just love her because she tells you the truth. There is no point in somebody yes’ing you to death. You know better. You know it doesn’t look right. I adore her,” Lucci said.
Zyla said, “The thing about Susan and her style is there is a playful, sexy, strong vibe. There are not a lot of bells and whistles but her style is very effective. She will wear a beautiful dress that fits her body really well as opposed to a blouse, a jacket and a skirt. Her style is such a great expression of her. She’s very bright, adventurous, playful, flirtatious and on and on and on. Everything she wears is completely supportive of her personality. I’m sure that this line will continue to put that forward.”
While Lucci readily described her Erica Kane character as a “femme fatale,” she added, “She also was very spunky and very determined. There was that spirit that she had. People would ask me, ‘Do I have the same taste as Erica?’ And the answer is yes. It’s just that Erica would wear the Dolce & Gabbana that I would wear to a cocktail party, she would wear it on the plane or to a meeting.”
As for what the fictional character would make of Lucci’s QVC collection, the actress said, “I think she would love it because she was a very active character. She was very, very busy. This would allow her the freedom to do everything she had to do and still look good.”
Fans can also find Lucci in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Visible Ink performance Monday at Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse. Well-known actors, writers and musicians bring to the stage MSK patients’ original work in this annual performance.