About 500 fans turned out for Jessica and Ashlee Simpson’s appearance on Saturday at Belk at the Galleria, and a good time seemed to be had by all .
The event is to launch Jessica’s new home furnishing line,the wait was long but once things got rolling, the ever-patient fans seemed to relish every minute, however brief, with their “hometown girls,” as several called them. The sisters grew up here and attended Richardson’s J.J. Pearce High School. Both had husbands and kids in tow, though after an official photo op, the families were, for the most part, shuffled behind a security curtain.
Speaking of security, the Simpsons’ security team should work for the Secret Service, they took so seriously their duties. Frankly, it all seemed a little over-the-top for something as innocuous as a launch for (very cute, by the way) sheets, comforters and pillows. I counted at least six security people up front, including the Simpsons’ dark-suited, somber-faced group as well as Dallas police and store security. I’m sure there were more, roaming the aisles looking for bedding terrorists.
It was a relief that the Simpson women weren’t nearly so grave, laughing and joking with fans as they took pictures and signed autographs. Both women wore clothing from Jessica’s line, she in a classic little black dress with a geometric cut-out neckline, Ashlee in a long navy skirt and sparkly gray sweater.
Evan Ross, son of Diana Ross and newlywed (in August) to Ashlee arrived rocking a black-and-white animal print, full-length fur coat. Faux? Who knows? Members of the press got only a minute or two, if that, with the Simpsons, so there wasn’t a chance to ask. During that moment or two, we weren’t allowed to have our purses, umbrellas or even a notepad and pencil with us. Security, you know.
Some fans waited hours to meet Jessica and Ashlee Simpson on Saturday. The line snaked through the first floor of the store, with a cloud of Jessica’s new Signature perfume hanging in the air as women bought and applied it.
But it’s not about the press (although I had a great time), it’s about the fans, and they were clearly in Simpson heaven. The Wood family – Leslie, Dustin and daughter Kate, 4 – came from Oklahoma City for the event. First in line, they were at the doors at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, and were unfazed by the wait.
“Her music is awesome,” Leslie said after meeting Jessica, whose last CD was released in 2010. Leslie said she also loves Jessica’s “classy, not trashy” appearance and attitude. “That’s what keeps me into her. You don’t see her stumbling out drunk like some stars.” For his part, Dustin Wood was happy to have gotten Eric Johnson, Jessica’s hubby and a retired NFL tight-end, to sign a football. Johnson played for the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints before retiring in 2007.
Jessica has focused mostly on her retail line lately, a billion-dollar business that sells in 75 countries, press representatives said. Many people mentioned Jessica’s music, though, and said they wish she’d start singing again. There seems to be a special place in fans’ hearts for her version of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” which was on 2005′s Dukes of Hazzard soundtrack.
In addition to clothing and the new bedding line, Jessica’s retail empire includes shoes, fragrance, handbags, jewelry, sunglasses, slippers, coats, other home goods, luggage, even iPad covers.
Her newest fragrance, Jessica Simpson Signature, was a big hit at the event. So many women purchased it that a cloud of it seemed to hang over the room. Thankfully, it’s a lovely scent, with notes of white-chocolate vanilla bean, sandalwood, nectarine, apricot and many others. The PR folks describe it as “floral gourmand.” Prices range from $18 for a .2 ounce rollerball to $65 for the 3.4 ounce spray. It also comes in a $30, 6.7 ounce body-lotion version.
Kristin Cheatham of Plano, at the end of the line on Saturday around 2:45 with probably an hour’s wait still ahead of her, said she didn’t mind that at all. She met Jessica here when they both studied under the same vocal teacher. “It’s great to see someone who worked on her voice, and then actually got a record deal,” Cheatham said. “And she sure had a hidden talent for fashion, too.
Cristina Thompson of Little Elm, who had her daughters Sofia, 8, and Olivia, 5, with her, said she’s been a fan of Jessica’s for a long time. “She has great fashion sense, and I love her clothes.” Thompson’s little ones have items from Jessica’s line for toddlers through tweens. “She seems so nice. I think she’s a great role model for families,” Thompson said.
Brothers Angel Marrufo and Junior Hernandez brought their sister, Adrianna Maruffo, who uses a wheelchair.
“She’s true to herself,” Adrianna said of Jessica. “She doesn’t change who she is for anyone.” Adrianna once attended a Simpson concert, she said, but was so nervous she backed out of meeting her. She wasn’t about to let that happen on Saturday.