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St. John ads get rid of a (Kelly) Gray

January 8, 2010 |  5:00 pm

A quick spin through Google Trends this afternoon turned up a familiar name in the No. 1 spot: "Kelly Gray." Because the only Kelly Gray we know around these parts is the daughter of Robert and Marie Gray, who founded Irvine-based St. John Knits in 1962, not to mention the longtime face of the label in advertisements, we decided to follow the herd.

kelly gray, st john, karen elson, st john clothing angelina jolie the st john lady st jon Turns out it's one and the same. It looks like the interweb is curious about fashion industry trade paper  WWD's article Thursday (subscription req'd) reporting that she and Angelina Jolie (who we frankly thought had left the building ad-wise eons ago) had been replaced by flame-haired British model Karen Elson (a.k.a. Ms. Jack White) for the Spring 2010 advertising campaign.

Corporate executives wrested control of the company from the founding family back in 2005, and Kelly Gray, as you might recall, was famously replaced as the face of St. John by Jolie. Although Robert Gray had retired back in 2002, both Gray ladies eventually returned to the fold to serve as design consultants.

WWD quotes St. John Chief Executive Glenn McMahon as saying the company wanted to "make a clean break from actresses and steer away from blonds and cleanse the palette.” 

News of the new ad campaign, shot by Greg Kadel, was confirmed in a news release posted at the company's website. (The comment about blonds was not.)

OK, we get the actress part, but really, there's got to be more than anti-blond bias at work. After all, isn't that a problem that could be fixed a lot easier by spilling hair dye instead of bad blood?

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Kelly Gray, left, and mother Marie Gray before a St. John fashion show in 2007. WWD reported that Kelly Gray, who often appeared in the company's ad campaigns, was being dropped in favor of British model Karen Elson. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times.

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