Having literally grown up in the fashion world, Brooke Shields, actress, model and author, knows a thing or two about how clothes should fit and make a woman feel. Now she’s adding another notch to her belt: fashion designer.
Shields is designing a collection for QVC, called Brooke Shields Timeless, that will hit the airwaves Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. EST with the full collection launching March 14 at 11 p.m. EST, as reported. The actress will be on-air touting her creations, which she developed with KBL Group International, a New York-based apparel manufacturer.
She plans to preview her apparel and accessories collection to the media at The Beekman in New York on Wednesday evening.
Shields has proven to be a hands-on designer, having a say in every aspect of her collection. She has an office at KBL and is often up late at night e-mailing back and forth with her partners there.
“I’m involved in every button, every zipper, every seam, every hem and every pocket,” the 52-year-old actress said. “The whole thing is initiated by an aesthetic I have, and working with the manufacturer and QVC themselves. They have a great deal of input. What’s been so refreshing is they [QVC and KBL] have really consulted me on everything.”
Shields said she had been approached by companies over the years to do a collection, but it never came to fruition. Basically the other companies only wanted her name, and weren’t interested in her input. “People just wanted me to stick my face on their aesthetic. They wanted a name more than they wanted the history and the legacy of it,” she said.
Doug Howe, chief merchandising officer for QVC Group, said, “When we first heard Brooke speak about her collection, we were blown away by her passion and her attention to even the tiniest detail. Each and every piece of this line is special to Brooke and she’s had her hand in every design decision, from stitch, colors to prints. We feel confident that her excitement will appeal to our customers and that her stories will inspire them.”
Shields said that having been on countless fashion shoots, she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to how a garment should fit.
“This has been a cumulative effort over the years on my part. Every show that I’ve ever done, every television show, every Broadway show, there’s a whole fit process and it doesn’t matter what you’re buying. You could be buying something off the rack at a discount store or you can be putting on haute couture of some famous designer. And they all can be tweaked and can look better.
“It’s years of understanding that maybe I’m a little short-waisted, or maybe I’m long-waisted, or maybe I need a rise to be a little longer to bring your attention to my waist, my hips, whatever. The beauty of fitting these varied models is you watch these women of all sizes be able to not at all jeopardize their aesthetic or their look or line because it fits. It’s been such a revelation for me,” she said.
“I love stepping outside of myself. By this point, after this many decades in the business, I’m a little sick of myself,” she quipped.
Shields did have a bit of trepidation before accepting this role, though.
“At first you go through this questioning process, of why do I merit doing this? And it’s because for years, I’ve been in the fashion industry and trying to make clothes look amazing. And a lot of the time it’s not easy. Things don’t always photograph well. Or you’re contorted, or they’ve got clamps in the back and something’s too tight and they cut it open. It’s years of being around this and having to dress for different environments. If you’re hosting the ‘Today’ show, that’s a different wardrobe, or if you’re at a downtown art event, that’s a different wardrobe. For years I’ve been putting on other people’s clothing and taking them off and never really developing my own sense of style.”
Shields has set out to create an eclectic wardrobe and wants to make sure the pieces can all work together, depending on the customer’s personal style. “The pieces are actually timeless pieces. There are pieces that I’ve loved and needed and always had a version of in my wardrobe, whether it’s the perfect blazer or that perfect black pant or the right silhouette of a dress. You need a wide-leg trouser, you need a straight-leg jean. You need a really crisp blouse, but all the pieces can be worked differently and styled differently.”
The collection, which was fitted on two different fit models, goes from XS to 3X. “You just can’t take an extra small and make that pattern 3X. You’re dealing with different proportions,” she said.
The collection features a selection of separates, including classic button-ups, flowy blouses, tailored bottoms, flirty skirts, colorful scarves and contemporary fashion jewelry. Retail prices range from $29 to $109, with the majority between $39 and $69.
Acknowledging that not everyone looks the same as she does, she designed pieces with that in mind. “I’m not trying to put out one style and say, ‘This is what you have to look like.’ I’m interested in ‘This is the classic, timeless shape, cut, material.’ Those are the kind of things that never go out of style. It’s been a matter of finding those fabrications and then, you should have a wardrobe where you don’t panic every time you have to get dressed.”
Shields said her sensibility centers around having button-downs or tailored bottoms, with accents being in colorful scarves or great jewelry. She set out to create pieces that someone can wear to drop-off their kids at school and also if they have to go to an office event or a parent-teacher conference. “You can change to a pencil skirt and instead of a tank on the top, you can put a crisp blouse with it, and throw on a pump.”
The mother of two daughters, Shields said people don’t realize that her life during the day is pretty much similar to other people’s. “My day is a lot more similar to the customers than I think people realize. The flip side is I may be on a red carpet, but all those other hours when I’m schlepping in the city, or I’m traveling.” She said “half the time the stuff I’m wearing on the red carpet, I borrowed and have to give it back.”
“I do drop off, I do the parent-teacher meetings. My daughters are getting to the age where they want me to look kind of cool and they want me put together. If I’m just putting on jeans and a sweater, they want me to look like they think people expect me to look. [I’ll tell them] I can’t get four hours of hair, makeup and wardrobe so I can pick you up at school and you can ignore me and ask me to have a play date with somebody, and you can roll your eyes at me,” she said.
Shields said she’s been impressed with the fabrics that they’re using, and although the fabrics aren’t cashmere, they have a similar hand. “The touch and feel is remarkable and then they have to be washable. The customer doesn’t have time and they can’t rack up a bill with dry cleaning.
“I’m trying to get the look of the pieces that I love and have worked for me in fabrications and price points that are not prohibitive,” she added.
Discussing some of her favorite pieces, she mentioned a blazer as well as a beautiful pinstripe shirt. “Because of the fabrication, you can literally wash it and wear it. I’ve worn it with blue jeans and tucked it into a pencil skirt. It’s two totally different looks.” Several of the items in the collection were inspired by vintage pieces that she and her mother purchased in flea markets and thrift shops. “Whether it’s an embellished robe or a three-quarter duster, or whatever the pieces are, I kept everything and I kept all my mom’s clothing,” she said, adding she keeps them in a cedar closet in her basement.
Originally she brought a lot of her closet to KBL “and that got a little excessive.” So instead she’s been working really closely with one of the women from KBL who comes over to her closet now.
“We go shopping together. We’ll go to vintage clothing stores or we’ll hit the antiques fairs, the ones in Brooklyn. I think that the most important thing in designing was that it’s constantly evolving, but not so trendy that it becomes prohibitive that you can wear it one time. These pieces need to work for you so you can amp it up with maybe more of a feminine piece,” she said.
“I love mixing feminine and masculine tones. I love a really feminine blouse with more of a man’s trouser,” she said. “I like the things that are less predictable but not for affect. This way it’s not kicking away at people’s individuality. Women should feel empowered by their own sense of style. They need pieces in their wardrobe to make their own personal sense of style come to fruition. That’s a big piece for me.”
And the line contains jeans — a category she became intimately involved in as a 15-year-old model for Calvin Klein Jeans. “It’s the classic jeans. They’re a little bit higher which is so back in style now. They have a bit of give. I’m interested in how things fit on the butt and how it makes your butt look. The feel of it when you put it on.
“For so many years, I was taking off my jeans and putting on a costume. That was my job and you embraced it wholeheartedly. But you don’t necessarily cultivate your own sense. You spend so much time looking at magazines and other people and say, ‘I want to look like that.’ I’m trying to create each delivery, any type of person can find ways to feel their best.”
As for her acting career, Shields is busy with a recurring role on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” where she plays Sheila Porter, a grandmother.
“Unfortunately, I just got arrested for kidnapping my grandson. The good news is they didn’t kill me,” she said.