A supermodel gets a super contract

Faithful readers of fashion magazines no doubt noticed the dual stories in September's Glamour and Vogue celebrating the personal style -- and the big new Revlon contract -- of supermodel Veronica Webb.

So what's so different about another model getting an exclusive contract with a huge cosmetics company? Christy has Maybelline, Cindy and Claudia have Revlon, Paulina has Estee Lauder and Vendela has Elizabeth Arden.


Veronica Webb is the first black model to join the club.

With the launch of Revlon's new line -- ColorStyle, targeted principally at black women -- Ms. Webb is set to become a high-profile role model of black beauty. Not content to be just a pretty face, Ms. Webb is planning to use the job as a way to help the black community.


"One thing that really attracted me to the project is there's also some very substantive things we want to do for black communities around the country, and there are a couple of projects planned," says Ms. Webb, 27. "What I would like to do is do some work at Revlon for the community that would leave behind something that would affect young people for a generation."

Revlon's vice president of marketing, Jerri Baccus Glover, says that Revlon has the same goal. "Revlon and Veronica totally agree in terms of the approach we're taking for the campaign. We're going to have a very strong community approach. We really want to do these type of [social] programs going forward so Revlon is not just taking money out of the community but putting it back in."

Ms. Webb was chosen from 30 black models because of her knowledge of social issues and intelligence, says Jerri Glover. "We were really looking for a complete person. Revlon wanted a person who had a lot of outside interests and who represented a modern African-American woman. We thought she was a good role model for young people."

"There's a lot of things that Veronica's got going besides being beautiful," says Joe Hunter, executive vice president of Ford models, Ms. Webb's agency. "The difference between a good model and a great model is a great model has a lot of different facets to her. . . .

"Not only is she going to look good in pictures, but if someone asks her a question she's going to be able to answer them intelligently."

Veronica Webb's talents are many. In addition to writing and acting, she also serves as a muse to designer friends Isaac Mizrahi and Azzedine Alaia. Ms. Webb contributes to Interview, Details and Elle and explores issues close to her heart in a regular column in Paper magazine. She also acted in "Jungle

Fever" and will appear in "Malcolm X," even though she says an acting career is no longer a goal.

In the past, a cosmetic contract has been the pinnacle of a model's career. No more catwalks, no more constant traveling. But Ms. Webb is planning to continue both her writing and her runway careers.


xTC "People think a girl gets a contract and it's this amazing Cinderella story and she's scot-free. On one hand it's true, but on another hand it's an enormous responsibility because of what Revlon spends on the product. This industry has been extremely kind to me, and I've had people who've stuck by me. I'm definitely going to keep working with my designers and my photographers," Ms. Webb says.

She says that her cosmetic contract goes beyond what it means to her career, beyond what it means to have another makeup line for minority women, and beyond what it means to a top cosmetic company. The possibilities this move holds for both black models and black women is significant, says Ms. Webb.

"In business everything operates on precedent. If this works, and so far we're having enormous response, other companies will be compelled by our success to do the same thing, and that will create more jobs for black women," says Ms. Webb.

Mr. Hunter agrees. "I hope every cosmetic company will get smart and get on the bandwagon."