Catherine Zeta-Jones has a vested interest — quite literally —in Elizabeth Arden.

“I’m a stockholder, not just the face,” said the Academy Award-winning actress, clad in a formfitting Oscar de la Renta navy dress and towering black patent Guiseppe Zanotti stilettos (“I don’t know how I walk in these, I’m more used to flip-flops!”) during an interview at the St.Regis Thursday afternoon.

While noting that the nearly century-old beauty brand has always been a classic, Zeta-Jones credited Scott Beattie, chairman and chief executive officer of Elizabeth Arden Inc., with making over what was once a slumbering dowager of a brand into a more youthful version. “Scott has worked hard to give this brand a younger, fresher look,” said Zeta-Jones, “and it has worked. He’s zapped it up in a new direction. It’s been exciting to see that over the last six years of our partnership, which has been very collaborative —I’ve had input on [ad] campaigns, and brought some of my own people in to do the styling.”

She’s particularly fond of an upcoming campaign for the brand’s upcoming Color Intrigue Effects lipstick line. Shot by Michael Thompson, Zeta-Jones joked that she looks like “I should be in a more modern version of ‘Valley of the Dolls.’ But after doing this for six years, I think that’s good. It’s different, it’s not like, ‘oh, there’s Catherine Zeta-Jones again!’”

Zeta-Jones was signed to her spokeswoman role in February 2002, at a time when Arden’s fortunes were decidedly mixed. Sales were floundering, and Elizabeth Taylor was the youngest spokesperson on the roster. The Welsh beauty was the first in a string of celebrities that Beattie would then sign —Hilary Duff, Mariah Carey and Britney Spears were among those who followed.

“Catherine’s been an icon —her elegance and beauty characterizes what we want Arden to be,” said Beattie, noting that signing Zeta-Jones made a younger generation sit up and take notice of his brand. “She’s been a great partner.”

What the deal is not likely to yield, despite Arden’s prowess in the celebrity fragrance market, is a Catherine Zeta-Jones fragrance. “We’ve made a conscious decision about that, because I am the face and spokesperson for Arden,” she said. “I think we’re all in unison that if it’s not broke, why fix it.” Also, she noted about endorsements, “Things have completely changed. It used to be, if you’re an actor, why are you selling stuff? People only used to do it in Japan. But beauty is an industry that makes complete sense for an actress.”

For complete coverage, see Friday’s WWD.

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