Pop beauty Jessica Simpson has become the unlikely spark for an economic boom in a small Argentine village.

The IRRESISTIBLE singer has been seen out and about in colourful wraps in recent months - both onscreen and onstage - and now fans are clamouring to buy replicas, much to the delight of residents in Florencio Varela, just outside of Buenos Aires.

Local designer CECILIA DE BUCOURT says of the crocheted hand dyed knits, which run for around $200 (GBP110) apiece, "I can't keep up with demand."

De Bucourt, who met Simpson at New York's Radio City Music Hall in May (04), says that the number of people working for her jumped from eight to 30 after Simpson started wearing the shawls, which she bought at BARNEY'S NEW YORK department store.

Many of De Bucourt's workers previously had trouble feeding their children.

Simpson's mother TINA says, "The kids in her village can eat, and they can go to schools that they couldn't go to. She changed this village."

01/07/2004 21:09