At 63 years old, Christie Brinkley loves social media.
Brinkley, who handles her own social media accounts and is expanding her use of Instagram Stories, deftly shoots selfies on par with a Millennial (her kids told her, however, that Snapchat is for their age). Instagram, in fact, was the impetus to expand her skin care brand, Christie Brinkley Authentic Skin Care, into color cosmetics.
“I’ve really gotten into social media,” said Brinkley from a suite at The Mark Hotel in Manhattan, where she was wearing a gold YSL dress prior to a press preview of her makeup last week. The festivities included blowouts at the Frédéric Fekkai Hair Salon, along with makeovers and facials using Brinkley’s products.
“It was always my plan to add cosmetics, but my Instagram ladies kept asking me for help with their makeup. So I told the guys [Andrew Surwilo and Thomas Shipley, the cofounders and co-chief executives officers of Atlantic Coast Brands, the creator of Brinkley’s beauty brand] it was time.”
The 22-stockkeeping unit Christie Brinkley Authentic Beauty will debut via HSN on Feb. 8, followed by a rollout at the end of the month at select Kohl’s Corp. doors. As with the skin-care collection, the makeup will also be available online and direct-to-consumer.
Brinkley’s three-year-old skin-care line produces estimated sales of $40 million a year. Expectations are the makeup can kick in another $20 million in its first year. Atlantic Coast Brands did not comment on projections.
“We do a great business with Christie. Our customers love her,” said Jeff Askenas, senior vice president of beauty at HSN. “So now we have hair, skin care and makeup from Christie Brinkley. It is a concise line with easy shade selections. It is competitively priced and has beautiful packaging as well.” Askenas was fast out of the gate with Brinkley’s skin care at his former role, where he elevated the beauty department at Kohl’s.
According to Atlantic Coast Brands’ Shipley, Brinkley and the new product team devoted two years working with Italian and Korean manufacturers to develop the color line. “We can’t wait to share the new line with our Christie Brinkley Authentic Beauty customers,” he said. The timing coincides with an expanding makeup category that posted a 4 percent increase in sales for the third quarter of 2017 as tracked by NPD.
The collection features foundations, eye concealers, highlighters, powder blush, powder bronzer, eye shadow palettes, mascara, brow-defining pencils and lipsticks. Prices range from $13.95 for the concealer to $27.95 for the foundation.
“Christie has had access to the best color products from all over the world for over 40 years and she knew exactly what she wanted to develop for her customers,” said Surwilo. “Our job was easy — source the finest ingredients worldwide and formulate them exactly to her specifications.” Added Brinkley with self-deprecating humor, “when you’ve got that kind of mileage, you need some good makeup.”
Even in a market where makeup artist and influencer collaborations now dominate the landscape, few could argue over the marketability of Brinkley. Her Instagram’s 346,000 followers may be overshadowed by the likes of the Kardashians, but Brinkley’s body of work is hard to match. She’s appeared on more than 500 magazine covers, including her return to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue earlier this year alongside daughters Alexa Ray Joel and Sailor Brinkley Cook. She was the longest-running face — more than 25 years — of Cover Girl.
Yet she manages to be approachable – a friend to share beauty tips with. Showing a fun side, she struck a pose with every attendee at her launch dinner in a GIF photo booth. Brinkley credits her age-defying looks to her healthy lifestyle, vegetarian diet and her skin-care regimen using her own products. But with a goal of being transparent, she shared in published reports earlier this year that she has used fillers, laser treatments and skin-tightening devices and more recently non-invasive procedures for frown lines and skin-lifting of the neck and décolletage.
With her color line, she’s on a quest to serve the needs of time-pressed women who want shades that can take them from day to night, she said. “I have a narrative in my mind when I do my makeup.…I want to look like sunset on the beach. That is what we were going for with these colors and shades.” She added a makeup trick she’s learned: “The colors I’m wearing tonight are the same I wear in the day; I just apply with a fluffier brush.”
Calling the collection the “Brinkley basics,” she emphasized they are cruelty free and foolproof. “The trend is to look like you, only better,” she said.
The introductory shades range is tight (for example, there are only two eye-shadow palettes and four shades of foundation), cultivated using feedback from followers. “You know the Instagram saying, your vibe attracts your tribe,” Brinkley laughed. “I have a lot of followers who have the same concerns I do, and they are the first to pipe up and we focused on colors for them.”
However, the limited side range, according to makeup artists who used the hues on guests for the launch, was flattering on an array of skin tones. Added Brinkley of her beauty enthusiast daughter Alexa: “She’s a beauty junkie and is finicky, but my products passed the Alexa test. Alexa has a very different look and style, so I understand all ranges. Alexa loves my blushes and they work with her fair complexion with darker hair.”
Brinkley added the ability to personally demonstrate the capabilities of her shades is one reason HSN is a good partner for her brand.
Still, Brinkley plans to build out the shade range, based on demand, in the future, as well as adding more categories such as brushes and sets. “I started out wanting to be an artist and studied art in Paris, so brushes are important,” she said. She showed off her artistic abilities, personally drawing face charts highlighting her color line.
Not surprisingly, the lightweight, non-caking formulas are suited for maturing women, an audience overlooked by many emerging makeup brands. Product descriptions mention camouflaging dark circles, soft focus optical blurring and peptide blends to boost collagen repair. And while maturing women are certainly part of her “tribe,” Brinkley is quick to note her social followers cast a wider net, ranging from ages 20 to 50.
Beyond her beauty empire, Brinkley has her home fitness equipment called Total Gym producing over $1 billion in sales, and Bellissima, an organic line of Italian prosecco. Her book “Timeless Beauty” comes out in paperback in January. She was recently a judge on for the finals of the “American Beauty Star” as well.
But for now she’s focused on cosmetics, with her recent Instagram post noting that as she packs for a trip she’s including clothes that stretch and her signature beauty products because both “hold shape and don’t wrinkle.”