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NEW YORK — Calvin Klein Inc. has cast another celebrity face in its upcoming advertisements, signing Academy Award winner Hilary Swank for the global launch of its new intimate apparel collection, Calvin Klein Sensual Support.

This story first appeared in the March 24, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Swank will appear in print, outdoor and other media in support of the launch, and will join Calvin Klein’s other recent exclusives — Scarlett Johansson for a new Calvin Klein fragrance launching this fall, and Natalia Vodianova and Fredrik Ljungberg for various products. Sensual Support, described as offering more support to style-conscious customers, will be the newest intimate apparel offering from Warnaco Group under the Calvin Klein brand, arriving at retail in July.

The 29-year-old Swank, best known for her 1999 best actress award-winning performance in “Boys Don’t Cry” as a woman who dresses as a young man, might sound like an unusual choice for a women’s underwear campaign, but both Swank and Calvin Klein marketing officials expect that the finished product will show a different, more sensual side of the actress than her public audience might anticipate. This is the first ad campaign in which she has appeared.

“When you see Hilary now, she has long, beautiful hair, and she looks like the woman that she is,” said Kim Vernon, senior vice president of global advertising and communications for CKI. “When you see these gorgeous, sexy, feminine pictures, I believe they will surprise people.”

Swank has had a long relationship with the company, attending some of its fashion shows and wearing Calvin Klein to several awards events, having become friends with Klein — after the designer saw “Boys Don’t Cry” and invited her to lunch — and more recently with designer Francisco Costa. According to Vernon, Swank said on the set that she chose to appear in the campaign partly because it was an unexpected move.

Shooting for the campaign, which will break in August and September magazines, began on Monday in New York with photographer Steven Meisel. The ads are planned to appear in more than 50 core fashion and lifestyle magazines in 20 countries.

According to materials provided by CKI, Swank said on the set of the shoot, “It’s interesting, that since doing ‘Boys Don’t Cry,’ so many people have this image of me — which is normal, because I think your first impression of people is what you are left with — so it will be interesting to hear and see people’s reactions to seeing me in the Calvin Klein lingerie campaign.”

This category of foundations for Calvin Klein Underwear is part of a new generation of high tech shapewear bearing the “Calvin Klein Sensual Support” mantra. Calvin Klein Underwear for women has traditionally focused on collections of basic and fashion underwear; daywear pieces such as camis and tanks; sleepwear and at-homewear items that have an updated look of casual sportswear, and bras and coordinating panties in fashion colors and prints. A mainstay has been its sheer Marcasite bras and panties in basic and fashion styles.

Bob Mazzoli, who rejoined Calvin Klein Underwear in the newly appointed post of chief creative officer in early March, said the launch of updated shapers will provide an “opportunity to reach new customers.”

“The collection is sexy, modern, beautifully designed and offers superior fit and full support with no aesthetic compromise,” Mazzoli said.

The addition of a new intimates classification will most likely increase revenues, as well as brand awareness. Earlier this month, Joe Gromek, Warnaco’s president and chief executive officer, said the brand has been impressive “geographically,” with European revenue exceeding $110 million and Asian operations topping $25 million.

The company ended 2003 with more than 33 freestanding Calvin Klein Underwear stores globally, and it expects to have more than 60 stores worldwide by the end of 2004. The company has also been busy with a junior underwear line under the Choice Calvin Klein label.

—?With contributions from Karyn Monget, New York, and Rose Apodaca Jones, Los Angeles

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