DELIA’S NEW DIVA: SHAKIRA SIGNS ON

Byline: Kristin Young

LOS ANGELES — She’s a diva in the making.
Shakira, a pop superstar in Spanish-speaking countries who has been called the Latin Madonna, just released her first English-language album in the U.S., called “Laundry Service.” And for a little cross-promotion, the Columbian-born musician is posing for the cover and two inside spreads of Delia’s spring catalog.
It’s a coup all right — and not only for Delia’s — the deal also will benefit Shakira’s record company. “I was trying to convince Delia’s to use one of our musical celebrities because the power of the Delia’s brand is very influential with young females,” says Lori Lambert, a vice president of marketing for Epic Records Group, Shakira’s record company. “The association with Delia’s is very beneficial. It’s a real lifestyle brand and it says, ‘This is somebody you should be aware of. This is somebody who’s cool.”‘
By the third week in January, Shakira’s likeness will be in the hands of some four million teen customers in the U.S., in 46 stores, and on the company’s online channel, delia*s.com. Delia’s publishes 10 catalogs per year and plans to expand to 200 stores in the next few years. Ads will also appear in the March Seventeen.
With the Shakira promotion, Delia’s marketing machine is in full throttle. There are “e-mail blasts” to its site members, banners to advertise contests, and reciprocal links and banners set up on epicrecords.com, shakira.com and delia*s.com.
The company is offering an enhanced CD of Shakira’s “Whenever, Wherever” with a $75 purchase. (Enhanced means one can pop the CD in both a CD player and a computer.) In stores, online and in the catalog, shoppers can enter to win one of 500 autographed CDs, an autographed guitar and a $500 shopping spree. Online there will be a Q&A with Shakira as well as video and audio clips and an editorial feature.
In stores, Delia’s will blow up the catalog’s cover to fill entire windows. Signage will push the gift-with-purchase offer.
“We felt that Shakira is definitely going to increase our reader interest and traffic to the Web site,” says Hilary Chasin, executive vice president of marketing for Delia’s Corp., declining to reveal the company’s financial expectations. Sales in the third quarter ended Nov. 3 increased 18.5 percent while a loss narrowed to $2.3 million from $42.7 million in the same quarter a year ago. “We think it will definitely build buzz and generate greater commercial interest.”
For Delia’s fashion focus on desert rose, a hippie-bohemian-gypsy look, Shakira is well-suited, according to Charlene Benson, senior vice president and creative director. “She balances a Latin thing, a rock thing, a pop thing and then an Arabic-belly-dancing thing,” she says, noting other spring themes are flirty-floral, modern-prep and American sport. “This desert rose story that we’re doing now, it’s a denim thing and it’s a little bit glamorous-hippie.”
At the shoot, Shakira herself appears fairly unaware of (or perhaps ignores) the publicity machine swirling around her. She mentions her family who travels with her and grounds her and likens singing in English to a “scary monster.”
“It’s intimidating but, like everything else, you get used to it and rehearsing gives you confidence,” she says.
Shakira choses the cover’s ensemble out of racks of Delia’s clothes. She picks a light blue ruffle tank ($28) and a distressed boot leg jean ($48).
“I’m definitely not the type of girl that loves to wear high heels and mini skirts,” she adds. “My thing is mostly pants and boots and belts and studs. But you never know, I’m surrounded by so many stylists that I lose focus and I end up wearing some glamorous thing.”
And then the purist emerges. “But I couldn’t imagine Janis Joplin with a stylist around her.”

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