Katie Holmes on Fashion, Beauty and Crafts

The actress sits down with WWD to discuss becoming the first face of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, as well as her fashion and acting projects.

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Katie Holmes

Photo By Stephen Sullivan

Her upcoming fashion presentation isn’t the only project on Holmes’ already overloaded plate. On Nov. 29, she’ll open on Broadway in the comedy “Dead Accounts,” which she postponed a movie to work on. She joked about the timing, given that she was doing Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” four years ago when Barack Obama was elected President. “I have to fix this — [Broadway projects] can’t just be every four years,” she said with a laugh. Turning serious, she added, “It’s a medium I really enjoy.” She’s not bothered by having to perform every night. “I’m a schedule person. I like to have a routine. You’re also very in touch with your audience — they’re very much a part of the show, which is obviously something you don’t have in film. You get to know people in a different way. The matinee audience is obviously very different from the Saturday night audience. You learn about material — you really start to understand what works and what doesn’t. I think both film and stage are so challenging, but in different ways. With film, yeah, you have another take, but a lot of the time you’re losing the light, so you better nail it on that take. I haven’t found any part of acting to be easy.”

The press’ voracious interest in everything from Holmes’ choices at Whole Foods to which label her young daughter is wearing on every given day was considered a plus by the Estée Lauder Cos. When John Demsey, group president of the Estée Lauder Cos., was asked if the notoriety surrounding Holmes’ marital breakup is a plus or a minus, he laughed and replied that this is “a significant opportunity.” Industry sources estimate the size of the Bobbi Brown business at more than $500 million at wholesale.

The ad campaign will be shot by Tom Munro, according to industry sources. “This all came together eight weeks ago, when Katie and I were introduced by a mutual friend,” said Brown.

One can draw certain parallels between Holmes and Brown: Both are from the Midwest (Holmes from Toledo, Ohio; Brown from Chicago), both are entrepreneurs and both emanate a girl-next-door vibe. Both share a passion for natural-looking makeup. Both are devoted mothers. “We had tea in the afternoon, and we bonded,” Brown recalled. “And then it was, ‘Oh, my God, you would be the perfect face for Bobbi.’ We weren’t looking for a celebrity, just a cool, amazing woman who would fit with our brand. And she’s just ridiculously naturally beautiful.” Brown will do the makeup for the Holmes & Yang presentation next week.

“I think it’s amazing that Bobbi found a hole in the marketplace and said, ‘I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to create a line for real women who want to look pretty and have it be easy,’” said Holmes. Turning playful about her role with Brown, Holmes intoned in a mock-serious voice, “I will be watching over every woman as she buys her lipstick.” Relatively speaking: Her image will appear on in-store visuals for Brown’s products.

Staying grounded? Holmes credits her Midwestern upbringing and crafts with her daughter for helping to keep her feet on the ground. “I spray-paint shoe racks, because, why not?” But she says with a laugh that said projects aren’t always successful: “I think, ‘Oh, I’m a great mom’ — and then it doesn’t really pan out the way I think it’s going to. But the intention’s there. I’ve always painted and done crafts at home — I have to stay creative in every aspect [of my life]. My sister teaches art, and she gives me a lot of ideas.” Leslie Sloane, Holmes’ publicist, offers in an aside: “She’s a really good decoupager.”

Holmes noted that she enjoys trying something new every day, without “being afraid to fail. Who cares? At least you tried. It’s usually the people who haven’t tried who are the naysayers.” On her list of things to try: directing, as well as more producing. “I executive-produced a film called “The Romantics,” and I do have interest in producing and directing in a few years.”

Holmes’ next film is an as-yet-untitled project directed by Christian Camargo, in which she stars with William Hurt. “It was an amazing experience, for sure,” she said, noting the film is set for a 2013 debut. “Wonderful actors — Allison Janney, Juliet Rylance, Mark Rylance, Michael Nyqvist, Cherry Jones.”

As for future film projects, Holmes is adamant that she not be pigeonholed into one particular type of role. “As an actress looking for new characters that have something to say — I always try to find projects that have a purpose and a message, and a real character — someone who either is flawed in a way we feel accessible to them or as a character you go to the movies and want to be.” She noted that she’d also love to work with Woody Allen: “I love ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’ so much.”

For her part, Holmes noted that she’s enjoying collaborating with Brown. “This is my first foray into beauty products and the evolution of a look,” she said. “You want the hair and makeup to support the woman, just like you want the clothes to support the woman. You don’t want to lose the woman. That’s how Jeanne and I design.”

“The girl next door has built a career,” said Maureen Case, president of specialty brands at the Estée Lauder Cos. “She has taken the bull by the horns and moved forward.”


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