Select items from Piaffe Beauty.

The most recent fashion defector, Marie Regan, is a former Donna Karan executive whose passion for products led to the start of her own company, Piaffe Beauty.

NEW YORK — Bewilderment often overcomes beauty veterans when they hear someone from the fashion industry has left Seventh Avenue for a spot in the lotions and potions arena. After all, fashion is second to none in the hierarchy of looking-good industries. Well, score another point for beauty: The most recent fashion defector, Marie Regan, is a former Donna Karan executive whose passion for products led to the start of her own company, Piaffe Beauty.

It began with Regan’s love for horses — she owns two at her home on New York’s Long Island. Piaffe, she explained, is an equestrian term, a variation of the trot gait, sometimes described as “trotting in place,” according to the Web site piaffe.org. “When done well, piaffe is a beautiful movement demonstrating the athletic ability of the horse,” the Web site said. Regan’s goal is that her skin care line brings equally beautiful results.

After leaving Donna Karan last fall, where she spent 15 years, most recently as senior vice president of manufacturing, Regan began tinkering with beauty ingredients. Her goal was to make a simple face and body line with a tight portfolio since she thought many of the products on the market were too complex. Self-funded, she hired a chemical team to mix formulas to target the 25- to 60-year-old woman on the go.

The name Piaffe didn’t emerge simply from Regan’s love of horses: The line’s active ingredient is horse chestnut, a powerful antiinflammatory that also improves microcirculation and collagen performance, Regan said. There’s the Velvet Body Cream, which is packaged in Italian glass and aims to smooth the skin of fine lines and cellulite. In addition to horse chestnut, it contains caffeine, shea and mango butters and a blend of marigold, chamomile and green tea. It is available in lemon verbena and white lilac scents. There is also Pure Indulgence Moisturizer, formulated with vitamin E and milk proteins with vitamins A and C to hydrate skin. Three facial cleansers in different scents contain green tea, chamomile and comfrey. There is also a tinted moisturizer, Mineral Sheer Tint, which comes in three shades and is oil- and fragrance-free. It serves as a precursor to a full cosmetics line planned for next spring. Regan said she’s aiming for the fragrance market, too.

This story first appeared in the October 14, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Regan expects Piaffe to generate between $4 million and $5 million in its first year, overseen by her husband, an art transport business owner, who also acts as Piaffe’s chief executive officer.

Piaffe items range from $30 for the tinted moisturizer to $52 for the body cream. Her line enters Charles Nolan and Warren-Tricomi this month, as well as Amazon.com. It is currently offered in the Bliss catalogue, as well as on piaffe.us. Next year, Regan will target Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Barneys New York.

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