Designing women

In the wake of her divorce from Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes has been a walking shop window for her own fashion line — which just so happens to be making its NY Fashion Week debut next month.

Designing women

WHEN actress Katie Holmes was photographed leaving a TV studio days after filing for divorce from husband, Tom Cruise, the fashion world took note.

Sporting a demure, navy-blue shirt dress, the 33-year-old reflected the quiet elegance with which she had been handling her high-profile split. Soon after, emerged pictures of her in a silk maxi dress and cropped leather jacket at a dinner date, an orange-tie waist frock on a visit to an Upper East Side coffee shop, and a green button-down blouse en route to collect daughter Suri — all outfits from the a/w collection of her burgeoning fashion line, Holmes & Yang.

In an act of canny marketing, Holmes took the little-known luxury brand from zero to hero in a fortnight. Sales of the label, which Holmes founded in 2009 with stylist Jeanne Yang, have spiked at US stockists Barney’s and Bergdorf Goodman, with a hotly-tipped spring/summer 2013 presentation at New York Fashion Week scheduled for Sept 8.

The August issue of US Elle features the brunette beauty on the cover wearing a pair of Holmes & Yang suspender pants and, inside, sporting a leather-ruffled top and black skinny trousers — both by the ampersand duo.

Holmes has fronted advertising campaigns for Miu Miu, Ann Taylor, The Gap and Coach, but is keen to differentiate herself as more than just a clothes horse.

Could it be that like pal Victoria Beckham, the former Dawson’s Creek alum wants to shake the past in favour of a more aspirational self, or will her new fashion empire ever completely erase the old Joey Potter/Mrs Tom Cruise?

Perhaps not erase, but certainly evolve. The early Capeside years (1998-2003) were a case of life imitating art: the 5’ 9” teen idol was rarely spotted out of a tomboy jeans-and-top combination by day, and a black trouser suit and matching pointed heels by night.

From 2003, a safe raft of satin handkerchief and halterneck-style dresses followed, paired with simple clutch-and-strappy sandals; until she met actor Tom Cruise in 2005.

The whirlwind romance between the Mission Impossible star and the then 26-year-old resulted in the prophetic media moniker TomKat — one that seemed to usurp the Toledo, Ohio native’s homely image.

Public appearances thereafter could well have been dubbed ‘the Armani years’, with Katie stepping out in a series of red carpet gowns by her husband’s preferred Italian designer.

First, there was a plunging pewter dress at the 2005 LA premiere of Batman Begins, followed by a diaphanous antique pink gown at the 2006 Conde Nast black ball.

Later that year, Tom would reportedly help design Katie’s Armani wedding gown (adorned with Valenciennes lace and Swarovski crystals), enlisting Giorgio to create the entire wedding party’s ensemble.

The new Mrs Cruise was then seen looking regal in a soigné apricot-and-gold confection at the 2007 Vanity Fair Oscars after-party, with a red strapless gown and new, graphic bob turning heads at the 2008 Metropolitan Museum costume gala.

Although the actress’s 2008 film Mad Money may have tanked, her silver-beaded goddess dress at the premiere granted her oodles of star power. Indeed, it seemed Holmes’s controlled red-carpet successes were rapidly usurping those at the box office.

Whether or not the Scientology rumours are to be believed, or if one’s clothes are an accurate statement of intent, cracks in the relationship seemed to appear when Katie wore Elie Saab to the 2012 Academy Awards.

Tom presented the Oscar for best picture wearing Giorgio Armani, who, unsurprisingly, also designed a selection of the actor’s wardrobe looks for Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol. Four months later, Katie would present Tom with a dramatic plot twist of her own in the shape of divorce papers.

Now, back to Katie 3.0 — the new, streamlined, liberated and evolved Ms Holmes. So just what can we expect from the actress’s upcoming fashion choices?

Looking at the new Holmes & Yang collection, it would appear to be a more simple selection of understated style solutions — fit for the modern woman.

The brand ethos, which espouses the power of timeless day-to-night pieces, is less ‘show’ and more ‘do’. Offering a limited production run of ‘made in the USA’ capsule basics, like silk georgette shirts, wool suits and suede biker jackets, the emphasis is on quality fabric and a flattering fit, with couture details like weighted seams and corseting ‘powermesh’. Prices range from $350 (€282.45) for a silk camisole to $3,100 (€2,501.70) for a wool cape — pricey but practical.

If Holmes is the de facto brand muse, then its incredible traction with stylish single mothers like Heidi Klum is not without cause, let alone New York’s fashion editing elite.

Time will tell what lasting impact Holmes & Yang will leave on the fashion landscape, or whether it can compete with similarly priced celebrity lines, like The Row. But we’ll all remember what Katie did.

¦ Holmes & Yang is stocked in store and online at: Barney’s New York and Beverly Hills; Just One Eye, Los Angeles; Montaigne Market, Paris and Harvey Nichols, London.

Celebrity fashion lines — who’s making bank?


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