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Beauty Beat: Estee Lauder Courts Williams

Serena Williams doesn't mind being seen as a flirt. A Flirt cosmetics creator, that is.

NEW YORK — Serena Williams doesn’t mind being seen as a flirt. A Flirt cosmetics creator, that is.

For the next year, the tennis whiz and fledgling fashion designer will serve as guest color creator for the cosmetics brand, which is produced by the Estée Lauder Cos.’ BeautyBank division and distributed exclusively at Kohl’s stores. Her new role will be unveiled in a press conference, scheduled for Chelsea Piers today. And Williams has wasted no time in putting herself to work: She’s already whipped up a trio of lip glosses that will be sold at Kohl’s beginning in February.

“I’m a total beauty junkie,” Williams said in an exclusive phone interview from her California home on Tuesday. “I think I’ve tried every product in the book.”

That intensive course in makeup was useful when she turned to creating her first color cosmetics products. “Being in fashion [with her signature apparel line, Aneres, launched last fall], it was important to me that the colors harmonize with spring 2006 trend influences — I didn’t want to make lip glosses that didn’t work with clothes. After we focused on the trends, I just jumped in and got my hands dirty mixing them all up.” And her hands didn’t exactly get the worst of it: “My bedspread has a ton of lip gloss on it now!” she said of her favorite mixing venue.

The glosses will each be packaged into exotic gemstone-hued pendants that are designed to do double duty as necklaces. Prices have not yet been finalized for Williams’ first collection, although most products in the Flirt line are in the $10 to $12 range. However, multicolor palettes designed by the last guest creator, actress Mila Kunis, sold this past spring for $25 each.

The working names for Williams’ glosses are Peach Sunrise, Strawberry Rush and Caribbean Dream. She is particularly partial to the latter, a deep purple gloss. “I love purple — it’s such a royal color,” she said. “But normally, I’d look at a gloss this color — because it appears to be very dark in the packaging — and not try it. But this one goes on very sheer and beautiful.” It’s a perfect match with color directions for fall, she said. “I can’t wait to try on all these purple clothes,” she said. She’s also expecting womanly looks — “not girly looks, there’s a distinct difference,” she said — to reign supreme in stores this fall, and said she believes the Indian influence on fashion will continue.

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Speaking of clothes, Williams’ fashion line, Aneres, has just gained a new general manager, Kenneth Zimmerman — and with that task out of the way, Williams is turning her attention to a different dream: planning a runway show. “When you come to New York, you have to make sure that all of the influences and pieces are perfect, and I think that they are — but I was too nervous to do [a runway show] this season,” she said. She’s not ruling a show out for next season, though.

Williams will — unlike former Flirt color creators Michelle Branch and Kunis, each of whom held a one-season role for the brand — will serve in the color creator role for a year. She’s already started developing her fall 2006 beauty line, although she declined to give details. “You’ll have to wait and see,” she teased.

The self-proclaimed beauty junkie is also not ruling out a deeper foray into the beauty world. “I’ve always wanted to do my own cosmetics,” said Williams. In the past, Williams and her sister, Venus, had had a spokesperson deal with Avon, although it didn’t include creator duties. “One of the reasons I was excited to work with the Estée Lauder Cos. was because it is such a huge company — and they already produce so many of the brands that I use and love, like MAC and La Mer. There are a lot of things I would like to do in this business, and I thought it was important to align myself with Lauder,” she said. Could that include, perhaps, a signature fragrance? “There are a lot of opportunities,” she said cryptically, adding that while she has other projects in the works, it is premature to discuss them at the present time. For now, Williams is thinking of her tennis game, regularly visiting a physical therapist to strengthen an injured ankle.