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Fashion Diary: You can't keep up with (or keep down) the Kardashians

January 29, 2010 |  9:29 am
Kardashian bebe Gossip, first impressions, trends in the making, celebrities and style setters.

Last week, reality TV royal Khloe Kardashian shook hands with President Obama at the White House.

The "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" star had been invited by her husband, basketball player Lamar Odom, along with other team wives, to the ceremony honoring the L.A. Lakers' NBA championship. And though the collision-of-cultures handshake wasn't quite so jarring as when President Nixon greeted Elvis Presley at the White House in 1970, it was close.

The White House is just the latest corner of the world that the ubiquitous Kardashians have conquered. And next month, they are hoping to take over your closet when they debut a runway collection for trendy clothing brand Bebe at New York Fashion Week.

The Bebe-Kardashians line, which was designed by the brand's in-house team with input from Kim, Khloe and Kourtney, will be in Bebe stores shortly after the Feb. 16 runway show, bucking the traditional six-month lag time from runway to rack. The runway show is expected to be webcast live at Bebe.com and may be incorporated into the plot of the Kardashians' reality program.

The line, $59 to $129, is heavy on dresses, but also includes some day wear, such as a leather pencil skirt and a pink silk romper. The designing gig is for 12 months, with five deliveries expected throughout the year.

Bebe was approached by the Kardashians' agent about a clothing deal last year because the sisters were fans of the brand, according to Sophie Rietdyk, vice president of global licensing for Brisbane, Calif.-based Bebe.

"They are just the girls next door," says Rietdyk, who put together the deal.

The Kardashians are part of a new wave of celebrities signing on to advise or design for established brands. Lindsay Lohan is the artistic advisor for Emanuel Ungaro, and Sarah Jessica Parker is president and chief creative officer for Halston Heritage. British TV personality Alexa Chung is designing a collection for Madewell, and Kate Moss a line of handbags for French accessories brand Longchamp. And Steve Madden is partnering with Diana Ross on some footwear.

"Even though I don't have a lot of faith in the integrity of celebrities as designers or artistic advisors, in this economy, when everyone is playing it safe in terms of what they have the nerve to buy and what they have the nerve to produce, retailers are looking for any way to differentiate," says David Wolfe, creative director of the New York trend forecasting firm Doneger Group.

Although Bebe has done one-off collections with the Pussycat Dolls, Nicole Richie and Heidi Klum, this is the first time the brand has partnered with a celebrity for an extended length of time. The Kardashian runway debut promises to be a media maelstrom. But the girls will be making plenty of headlines before then, which is what Bebe is counting on.

Kim Kardashian, girlfriend of New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush, will hit the Super Bowl in Miami next week. During the big game, she is likely to be seen on screen in her latest Carl's Jr. commercial, in which she performs the near-impossible feat of sexing up a cranberry apple walnut salad by noshing on one in a bubble bath.

She's also uncapping a fragrance bearing her name at Sephora stores, with personal appearances planned around the country. That's between shilling for products on the red carpet (Couture Lollipops being the latest), working as a contributing beauty editor for OK Magazine, and helping her sisters mind their clothing boutique Dash in Calabasas.

Kourtney, who just had a baby named Mason, is accusing OK Magazine of digitally slimming her body for the Feb. 1 cover to make it look like she already lost the baby weight, while at the same time promoting something called a Belly Bandit.

And Khloe is partying at Sundance, dropping hints that she would like to be a mommy and fending off rumors that her TV wedding to Odom was a publicity stunt.

It's a wonder the Kardashian sisters have time to eat, but they do (QuickTrim diet supplements, mainly). Oh yeah, they are also rolling out a line of candles with the Salt Lake City-based firm For Every Body. The scents are inspired by baked goods. And they have an Armenian-inspired jewelry line in the works with Virgins, Saints and Angels.

With their enormous popularity (their E! network show reached a network record 4.2 million viewers in December), it's no surprise that they are getting involved in fashion design. But what style exactly are the Kardashians selling?

"They project sex and Bebe's image is a sexy come-on kind of fashion," says Wolfe, the trend analyst. "They are not anorexic by a long shot."

Fashion designer Stacey Bendet, who counts the Kardashians as friends and fans of the clingy mini-dresses and tops in her Alice & Olivia clothing line, puts it a different way: "Whenever I see them together, it's like watching my sister and me when we were growing up."

"They are flirty and fun and sexy, and they dress in a way that flatters their bodies," Bendet adds. "They are real women with curves. . . . When you see something on a 100-pound, 5'10" model, it doesn't translate."

Except that the Kardashians have the model thing covered too. Kendall Jenner, their 14-year-old half-sister, a regular on the family reality show, recently signed with an agency and stars in the new Forever 21 ad campaign.

Keeping up with Kendall sounds like the perfect spinoff.

-- Booth Moore

PAST FASHION DIARIES:

Feisty fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone gets real on her new Bravo show

Quarterbacking the Golden Globes' red carpet

The fashionistas of 'Jersey Shore'

The Tao of Tavi Gevinson

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Photo: A look from the forthcoming Kardashians-Bebe line arriving in stores next month. Credit: Bebe 

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