Simpson models in her fall campaign.

The Camuto Group, which holds the master license for Jessica Simpson's brand, has entered into an agreement with G-III Apparel Group Ltd.

Jessica Simpson is getting into dresses.

This story first appeared in the July 23, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Camuto Group, which holds the master license for the singer-actress’ brand, has entered into a multiyear agreement with G-III Apparel Group Ltd. to design, develop, manufacture and distribute a line of contemporary dresses under the Jessica Simpson label. The first collection is slated for a soft launch at retail for spring 2009, with a fuller range of product hitting stores in fall 2009.

The deal with G-III marks Simpson’s first apparel license since the agreement with Tarrant Apparel Group, the brand’s former apparel licensee, abruptly ended two years ago with a lawsuit between Camuto and Tarrant. The suit was settled in November when the parties resolved their litigation and Tarrant gave up the license.

Tarrant originally filed the suit against Simpson and Camuto in New York State Supreme Court in April 2006 over the celebrity’s alleged failure to promote her lines. Camuto filed a counterclaim against Tarrant, seeking more than $100 million for the damages caused by alleged misconduct in breaching and abandoning its contractual obligations under the sublicense for Simpson’s sportswear apparel line.

While details of the dress line to be made by G-III are still being worked out and prices haven’t been set, the collection is expected to complement the brand’s current mix of product, which includes footwear, swimwear, handbags, eyewear, outerwear and jewelry. The company is also gearing up for the fall launch of its first fragrance, Fancy Jessica Simpson, with Parlux Fragrances Inc. This is in addition to her other beauty deals, including a clip-in hair extension line with Ken Pavés, called Hair U Wear, and a bath and body care line called Dessert.

“I’m extremely excited to be expanding into the dress market,” Simpson said of her newest venture. “I plan on creating beautiful dresses in distinctive fabrics and silhouettes that are reflective of my personal style and offer something special to the marketplace.”

For G-III, which already works with Camuto on the Andrew Marc footwear line, this relationship formed naturally.

“Camuto has done such a great job with Andrew Marc shoes and we have known Vince [Camuto’s chief executive officer] for years, since he was the owner of Nine West,” said Wayne Miller, chief operating officer at G-III. “We really think that he has done an unbelievable job building the Jessica Simpson business and turning it into a lifestyle.”

Miller said the line will have a contemporary style, but at a young contemporary price point in order to fit in with the existing Jessica Simpson products. He said G-III hopes to sell the collection to better department and specialty stores nationwide.

“If you look at Jessica’s lifestyle, dresses complement it very well, and it’s also such a hot category in the market today,” said Bob Galvin, president of the Camuto Group. “It also fills a void for us in apparel and we see G-III as such a great partner. They have a wonderful reputation and we have known them for over 10 years.”

Sources close to the company estimate the Jessica Simpson shoe line alone will bring in about $250 million at retail this year. Camuto has said he is on his way to growing Simpson’s licensing businesses into a billion-dollar franchise.

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