NEW YORK — The House of Deréon is ready for its close-up.
Beyoncé and her mother, Tina Knowles, were on location at a private home in Yonkers, N.Y., last week shooting the advertising campaign for the contemporary brand’s spring collection — the first full line, slated to hit stores in February.
“We wanted [the campaign] to be as authentic as possible,” said Beyoncé, seated in one of the 18 rooms at Greystone Court, a 19th-century castle overlooking the Hudson River. “The name of the brand is my grandmother’s name, a Creole name, so we wanted the pictures to have a lot of feeling and soul. We wanted to do the shoot in a house where we can mix antiques with the modern. We wanted it to have a lot of texture.”
While the exact details of the campaign remain under wraps, the spring collection, Beyoncé said, has a color palette rich with beige, cream, peach and pale aqua and consists of 47 pieces. “Colors that remind you of sunshine,” she added. Beyoncé said one of her favorite pieces was a one-piece short-suit that was set to hit stores in the summer.
“Mom, what’s the technical word for that one?” Beyoncé asked about the silk charmeuse piece in a large poppy print.
“We’re calling it short-alls,” Tina answered. “It’s very vintage-inspired.”
Beyoncé and Tina star in the ads, which were shot by Norman Jean Roy and will be featured in magazines beginning in February. The mother-daughter duo were photographed in a number of rooms in the castle, owned by fashion designer Mary McFadden’s ex-husband, Kohle Yohannan, donning various looks from the spring collection. Though a sampling of the House of Deréon collection, such as jeans and outerwear, is in stores now, consumers will get the full offering in February. Over the next two months, the Knowleses and the House of Deréon team are building brand awareness among their core demographic, 18- to 35-year-old women.
“It’s my job to get the message out,” said Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé’s father, who managed his daughter’s Grammy-winning group, Destiny’s Child, and who’s now spearheading his family’s foray into fashion. “We’re going to take baby steps and develop the brand slowly and do it right the first time. We’re not trying to become the biggest brand in the world tomorrow. We’re honored to be in the fashion industry and we’ll learn as we go. We’re humble about that.”
The growth of the brand now, according to Mathew Knowles, will be split into various phases and executed with the help of strategic partners. “ABC, Sony Music, E! Entertainment and L’Oréal have come in as partners,” he said, adding that various events, such as Beyoncé’s upcoming appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” will help grow brand awareness. Fashion shows, events coinciding with the release of her new film, “Dreamgirls,” in late 2006 and a lengthy, behind-the-scenes special on E! are in the works. Mathew said the plan is to focus on six key cities for the launch: Houston, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York.
In late October, Charles “Chip” Rosen was brought on to strengthen the foundation of the brand as president and general manager. Rosen is responsible for operations, merchandising, design, sales, marketing, licensing and manufacturing of the collection.
“This campaign really gives light to the DNA of the brand,” Rosen said. “Tina and her passion and love for the industry really started in south Louisiana where her mother is from. This isn’t about her waking up one day saying, ‘I’ve got a famous daughter now, I’ve got to get into the fashion business.'”
In fact, Tina had been working as the designer and stylist for Destiny’s Child throughout the group’s career. “Her approach to styling Destiny’s Child was different,” Mathew said. “When everyone wanted her to put the girls in khakis or fatigues and boots, she was doing glamour. Tina single-handedly changed the scope and the look of fashion in the music industry with the look of Destiny’s Child. She has a vision and she can articulate it.”
Wholesale prices for the House of Deréon collection are between $17.40 and $165. A lace baby-doll dress wholesales for $143; a seersucker jacket has a wholesale price of $78.50, and coordinating cropped pants wholesale for $39.
The sportswear collection is licensed to Tarrant Apparel Group, a Los Angeles-based private label manufacturer. In May 2004, the Knowleses created Beyond Productions with Jason and Arthur Rabin and Cory Silverstein of Wear Me Apparel/Kids Headquarters here. The partnership provides the infrastructure for licensing and brand management for House of Deréon.
The collection will be distributed to Federated Department Stores and Dillard’s as well as specialty boutiques nationwide. Rosen declined to provide a wholesale volume projection for the first year.
Tina said she’s currently splitting her time between Houston and New York, where the company is based. She flies out here every Wednesday to work on the collection. Beyoncé, on the other hand, said New York is her home these days.
“We have a lab here where everybody gives ideas and we do our treatments. It’s not like we do our sketches and send them off to be interpreted. We design our line,” Tina said.
Beyoncé admitted that since she’s had the opportunity to wear the world’s most coveted designers, she’s picked up a few tricks of the trade. “Fit is very important to me,” she said. “We’re trying to put the fit of couture clothing into our clothes. I know exactly how clothes need to be fixed. I know if the straps are too wide or if the bows are too big. Those details mean so much.”
“Beyoncé is also a shoe fanatic and she’s sent the shoes back numerous times,” Tina added, referencing the launch of House of Deréon shoes, slated for spring. House of Deréon signed a licensing agreement with San Diego-based House of Brands, the footwear manufacturer and distributor, in July. “She’ll send them back saying, ‘Lose the strap,’ or ‘The opening in the toe is too big,'” Tina added. The wholesale price range of House of Deréon shoes is between $40 and $70. Styles range from boots to classic pumps.
“These clothes are really for a woman who is fun,” Beyoncé said. “She doesn’t want to look like everyone else, but she wants to look classy. It’s really for a woman who wants to be on top of fashion.”