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Talking Beauty With Katie Holmes

Actress is launching the Bobbi & Katie Collection with Brown in September and planning her next entrepreneurial steps in beauty.

The girl next door would like to occupy a bit more real estate in the beauty world.

Katie Holmes —who inked a cosmetics deal with Bobbi Brown last September and bought into Alterna hair care in January — is launching the Bobbi & Katie Collection with Brown in September and planning her next entrepreneurial steps in the beauty category.

“I’m interested [in doing a fragrance],” Holmes told WWD from the Manhattan set of her latest movie, “Mania Days,” in which she stars as a manic-depressive poet. “We all need a little help in smelling good, especially in the summer in New York City!”

Holmes said her passion for the beauty industry has been fueled by her positive experiences with Bobbi Brown and Alterna over the last year. “I’m open [to more roles in beauty],” said Holmes. “I’ve had wonderful experiences with both Bobbi Brown and Alterna, and it’s nice to be a part of companies that have such integrity.”

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By all accounts, the Brown-Holmes partnership has been a lovefest. “I’ve loved every minute of it — Bobbi is so creative and so smart. I’m very inspired by her,” said Holmes, who cites Brown’s willingness to collaborate rather than dictate and to listen with an open mind, and her creativity, as qualities she admires. “I’ve also really enjoyed working with Alterna. We haven’t created shampoo together, but it’s been equally satisfying. I’m proud to be a part of both.”

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And Brown is equally besotted with Holmes. “Katie’s not just a face, she’s a true partner,” said Brown. “She’s ridiculously beautiful, and she really has a feel for what women want and need. She has a great eye for color and design.”

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It’s been about a year since Holmes set up a home in Manhattan, post-divorce, with her seven-year-old daughter Suri Cruise — and Holmes, who doesn’t profess to have a great sense of direction, is enjoying settling in. “I think I’m getting better at making my way around the city,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t get lost as often. I’d call it a good skill.”

The city’s spontaneity enchants Holmes, although she could probably do without the paparazzi chronicling her every move. “I’ve always loved New York,” said Holmes. “You never know what’s going to happen in a day. You wake up and you have your schedule, but you just run into people you haven’t seen, or you say to yourself, ‘Oh, that show looks great. I really want to see that,’ and you end up seeing a great play and you get inspired. The city is full of inspiration, if you are open to it.”

Speaking of plays, Holmes highly recommends the Broadway hit “The Assembled Parties.”

“Judith Light — she is just phenomenal,” said Holmes, a Broadway buff who has appeared on the Great White Way in “Dead Accounts” and “All My Sons.” “So is Jessica Hecht. It was amazing. Obviously, because Judith won the Tony — I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know. It was a really cool experience to see.”

While she could return to Broadway in the future, right now Holmes has her hands full with movie projects. In addition to “Mania Days,” which is filming now in Manhattan, she is in postproduction with “Days and Night,” a modern retelling of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull” set in rural New England. She’s also reportedly about to go into preproduction with “Responsible Adults” with Chace Crawford.

And while you couldn’t exactly call playing a manic-depressive poet an uplifting experience, Holmes is sunny about her current role. “We’re still in the process of making it, but it’s been really rewarding so far,” she said.

She doesn’t even mind the gawkers as she films on Manhattan streets. “It’s been great to film in New York,” she said. “Sometimes [crowds] can be distracting, and sometimes it can be quite the opposite —they can ground you more into the character, and more into the movie,” she said. “It just depends on what happens that day when you’re filming. But I love movies that are filmed in New York. There are so many ways to shoot this city, and I think the challenge comes in finding a unique way to do it, something that hasn’t been done before —putting your personal spin on it. It’s been really exciting.”

Holmes also has a few producing projects in the works. “Still working out the deals, but it’s a creative time,” she said.

She’s also planning a presentation at New York Fashion Week for Holmes & Yang, the label she owns with her friend and former stylist Jeanne Yang. “We’ll probably do something smaller, like in the hotel as we did in February,” said Holmes. “We found that to be very effective. We’ve had great sell-throughs at Barneys. We’re having a good time.”

But back to beauty. The Bobbi & Katie Collection includes a brush set, $65, and a $68 palette with eight eye shadows, two Pot Rouges and one mini eye pencil. “We chose Pot Rouge because it’s a two-in-one product for cheeks and lips that’s easy to apply,” added Brown. “Katie had the idea to include a mini eye pencil, which I think is genius.”

“In the morning, if you’re tired, throw [Pot Rouge] on,” added Holmes. “Add some nude lip gloss and you’re good. These are things that will perk you up. And I look to Bobbi for that, because she’s an incredible makeup artist. I’m always asking her, ‘What do I do when I’ve slept four hours and I’m going to a meeting? What do I do so I don’t look like I’m exhausted?’”

The palette was inspired by one of Holmes’ old journals and her ultrabusy life as a working actress and mother. “I had this old journal that was brown and pink, and it felt very girly, but at the same time masculine in a way,” Holmes said. “And I always have loved it. So I brought it, and I said, ‘This is something that I really like, and could we maybe use this as inspiration for the packaging?’ And she, Bobbi, was very open to that. And then the [cosmetics] colors we chose were really personal to us. I’m busy, Bobbi’s busy — I don’t know a woman who isn’t busy, and you need that quick fix. You need the natural colors like nudes. Nobody wants to look like they’ve been getting ready for hours. It’s all about the effortless chic.”

And she means truly effortless. “Our objective was to do something that is very helpful to all women,” continued Holmes. “You can put it on in the back of a cab, you can put it on in your bathroom at home, you can put it on in the parking lot at your child’s soccer game. It’s simple, but we like to have special things that make us feel good, and I think that’s what this palette achieves. It feels like it’s a little secret and it has all of your tricks inside. You can quickly get yourself looking the best you could look and then put it back into your bag. It makes you feel good, and we all want to feel good.”

While both Brown and Holmes kept mum on sales projections, industry sources estimated that the collection could do $3 million at retail during its months on counter. It will be sold in Brown’s full distribution, currently more than 1000 doors in 60 countries.

In September, Holmes will begin working on skin care with Brown, and Holmes is already thinking ahead to additional projects and actively quizzing her mother and older sisters for must-haves. “I ask what they need, what do they think would be cool, what they’re missing,” she said. “I think it’s kind of part of the conversations I have with all different women. I’m always just listening. I feel like what I’ve learned recently about women is we are strong, but we like to be girly. And I’m always excited to share things that I believe in with my friends and family.”

Is it weird to walk by Brown’s shops and see herself in the window? “I suppose,” she giggled, “but I’m very proud of my picture next to Bobbi Brown’s name, and I can’t believe it’s me! It’s cool. I look at it and I’m like, ‘Wow, really? You chose me?’ It’s always kind of a thrill.”

But she’s clear on one point: You haven’t heard the last of Holmes on beauty. “I send [Bobbi] crazy ideas, and we just keep going…and we’ll see what happens next.”