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The skin care brand Nude has a new look and a new script but, happily, the music remains the same.
This story first appeared in the June 15, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Nude’s founders, Bryan Meehan and Ali Hewson, held an intimate dinner June 7 in the penthouse of the newly opened NoMad Hotel in New York City to unveil its newly revamped line. The magazine industry’s top beauty directors sat around a long table with Meehan and Hewson, with the center chair conspicuously empty. As the meal began, in walked the real star of the evening, Bono (aka Ali’s husband, Paul David Hewson.)
“I’m clearly not an ad for skin care,” Bono remarked to the obviously appreciative editors. “They could use me in the before and after ads.”
The purpose of the event was to show off the reformulated and repackaged Nude products, thanks to the support of the new majority partners, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. LVMH entered the picture in February 2011, when the French luxury giant acquired 70 percent of the now seven-year-old company, leaving Hewson and Meehan with the remaining share. Both founders are still deeply involved in developing and running the brand.
“Now we are proud to reveal the next generation of Nude,” Hewson said. “Firmly built on the original founding principles, Nude is a brand new way of thinking about skin care. There is more of an emphasis on skin nutrition.” In 2005, she and Bono, who had developed their Edun apparel brand, collaborated with Meehan, who had sold his Fresh & Wild organic food stores to Whole Foods in 2004. Meehan, along with Hewson, was interested in improving the way natural skin care was presented to consumers, “with high performance results,” he noted Thursday night. “Our approach of using probiotics and omega oils, ingredients the body understands from food, was pioneering.”
Eric Perrier, executive vice president of research and development for LVMH Parfums et Cosmétiques, gave an informative and highly detailed presentation on the latest thinking in the field of probiotics — healthy bacteria found naturally in the skin — and how the technology is used in the Nude brand to stimulate the immune system, repair natural defenses, prevent collagen damage and hydrate skin — both at the dermal and subdermal levels of the skin.
After the presentation, Bono sat down for some individual conversation before heading off with his wife to Liam Neeson’s 60th birthday bash at the Waverly Inn. The U2 legend riffed on several subjects, including the movie he’s working on with Neeson. “It’s a screenplay called ‘The Virgin of Las Vegas,’” said Bono. “I cowrote the story with my friend Barry Devlin. Liam Neeson has committed to playing the lead role, which is a big deal. The guy who produced ‘The Hunger Games,’ John Kilik — he’s producing it. The story’s been going around for awhile, but I just [re]read it today and thought to myself, I’d love to read screenplays like short novels. Why can’t you walk into an airport and buy a great screenplay as you get on the plane?”
Bono isn’t planning to appear in the film. “I just cowrote the story for fun,” he said, and he will be one of the producers, as he was for 2000’s “Million Dollar Hotel. “It’s like a hobby for me. I just love screenplays.”
Other hobbies include the Broadway play “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” for which he wrote the music and lyrics alongside fellow U2 member The Edge (aka David Howell Evans). “It’s a huge hit. Over a million people have seen it in a year,” said Bono — something of a triumph despite an extraordinarily rocky start. “This had every bad review. And it stayed. It’s the ultimate New York story. A kid from Queens who is extraordinary — not because of his spider powers, but because of his values. That’s what makes him a superhero. I think post-9/11, there’s something about the everyman superhero that’s locked in the American and, particularly, in the New York consciousness. And it’s just the best fun you could have on a night out. But it’s in its infancy — really, this is not done.” It is already scheduled to go to five additional cities, he noted. “The next iteration will be an evolution — I think the whole show will always be evolution. I’m very proud of our partners [in the production.] I’ve learned a lot.”
When asked if he will ever recoup his enormous investment, Bono laughed: “I think some time in the 22nd century. It’s only just started. It’s getting better every week and I think there’s a ways for it to go.
“What’s interesting about Broadway, as opposed to the movies, is that they’re living organisms [on Broadway]. They change. Weekly, it’s a completely different show than the one the critics panned. You grow, you change. It’s been a humbling and occasionally humiliating experience, but not without humor and hubris and all the other h’s you can think of. And my name’s Hewson.”
“I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none,” said the man with the international household name.
As for his favorite group? Bono — who, as lead singer, founded U2 in 1978 with Irish schoolmates The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton and since has produced 14 studio albums and sold over 170 million copies of them — insists his fave is the Beatles. “So I’m always sort of sitting at the foot of the masters trying to figure out ‘How do they do that?’ I’m amazed with these guys. Their interest in Broadway and musical theater gave them such an edge. They were great students of the American songbook — Rodgers and Hammerstein and others. And now, if you look at some of their songs, you go ‘Oh my god, of course.’ As Paul McCartney says, ‘In Liverpool, if you could play musical theater songs, you got more dosh.’ They were paid better to play Rodgers and Hammerstein. So now you look at the Beatles with a different eye. It has changed our songwriting.”
Of U2, Bono said, “Right now, we’re kind of locked down just looking for a reason to exist.” The group is working on a new album, but “it may never come out. There may not be another U2 album. Unless it’s great. I’m not kidding about that. They don’t need it,” he said of his bandmates. “They’re really stubborn men. If you ask Larry Mullen if there’s never a new album, he doesn’t give a s–t. And Edge and Adam, they feel like me: let’s be great, or let’s f–k off and get lost. ” Bono noted that the latter sentiment is very Dublin: “When you see FOAD sprayed on walls on the north side of Dublin, that means “F–k Off and Die,” and I think that’s my attitude to U2 — unless we deliver.”
While Bono’s philanthropic bent is well-known and he has even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, don’t look for him to be running for office anytime soon. “I think [with] musicians, people vote on the song if they decide to listen to it,” he said. “Politicians — I have a lot more respect for them than most people, because I’ve seen how they live and how they work. They generally work extremely hard and they do [more good] than if they were in the private sector. Politicians, journalists — I have to say, not to kiss your ass, I’d rather kick it — but there are certain things people don’t understand. The value is not about how you’re paid. I’m overrewarded, overregarded, over the hill — every over. But politicians, if they’re good, they really give up a lot. They can’t say what I just said. They can’t use expletives, they can’t have that extra drink. They give up their reason and their license to be ridiculous.”