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2012 May 25

From The Daily Dan! Julie Macklowe's Beauty Edge

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Julie Macklowe Julie Macklowe
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(NEW YORK) A self-described fashion chameleon, vbeauté founder and former hedge funder Julie Macklowe revels in the shock factor of the vivacious ensembles she trots out to countless events on the NYC and Hamptons social circuits. Macklowe played dress-up with the Daily Dan in the ultra-mod concrete, steel, and cedar Sagaponack masterpiece she shares with her husband, Billy, and daughter, Zoe, while discussing her style thrills—and gaffes—and the full scoop on what, exactly, vbeauté has to offer to a perpetually crowded luxury beauty market. BY ALEXANDRA ILYASHOV 

First things first: how does your Sagaponack closet compare to its NYC counterpart?
This one is like a graveyard for my clothes! It’s hard to imagine anything that’s less than 10 years old in there. I just don’t dress the same in the Hamptons—it’s much more casual. It’s about running shorts, tennis clothes, a swimsuit and wrap, some ripped jeans. And a much bigger grey T-shirt collection!

How many shades of Rick Owens grey are we talking?
I must own 30 different colors of the same exact tank top.

Where do your clothes go when they’ve cycled out of Sagaponack?
They go to my housekeeper’s daughter. I’m sure there are more efficient ways to get rid of clothes, but that’s easy for me. Usually my husband is the first to tell me to get rid of things!

Such as?
Recently, I wanted to keep this Versace wetsuit-like dress. It’s the first one he ever bought me. But it’s too tight and too short for me to be wearing it at this age.

How gussied up do you ever get in your own Sagaponack lair?
I definitely prefer to dress up versus dress down, and I feel like evening clothes in the Hamptons are daytime clothes in New York. Last summer, I wore a beautiful Tomas Maier dress [shown here]. It’s cotton. My idea of casual is a knit, versus something that creases.

What are your favorite recent purchases?
I bought a bunch of Stella McCartney’s Spring pieces. Also, I’m really liking Roberto Cavalli and Christopher Kane. When I want to be a bit more dressy, I’m obsessed with Zang Toi. He’s one of the nicest people in the world! I really feel like Zang is one of the only American couture designers. He just made me an outfit for a Central Park Conservancy event with a special fabric from Lake Como—just because I wanted something purple to match my vbeauté products.

How does your closet break down in terms of couture versus fast fashion?
I’m of the view that it’s better to have fewer pieces; ones you love and will wear for many years. I’d rather own one or two good pieces than 10. Though I do go to cheaper stores and buy fill-in pieces. Actually, that Joe Fresh store looks very interesting…

What’s the biggest fashion faux pas you almost but never made?
Once I tried leaving the house in an electric blue Chanel dress, which I decided to pair with a big-shouldered cream jacket and matching cream boots—both by Chanel. My husband made me change. I did play trombone in the marching band, so it’s possible I was channeling my high school days.

How about something you actually wore out of the house?
Yep, I was called ‘the green giant’ when I wore this amazing big green cape by Zang to the CFDA Awards last year. People said I looked liked André Leon Talley, which was probably true. You win some, you lose some! 

Do you care what people think of your getups?
I definitely wear outfits that push the envelope. When Lady Gaga was starting to get really popular, I wore this Jean Paul Gaultier tuxedo jacket with built-in bustier and Chanel sequined short-shorts to a New Yorkers for Children event. It looked like I had no pants on! I also did my hair sort of messy, psycho killer-esque. Very Courtney Love.

Are you done with pantless?
I’m not trying to repeat it. I did wear a beautiful, totally see-through Alexander McQueen dress to the Met—Anna Wintour looking at me, like, ‘You have no clothes on.’ Yeah, but it was McQueen! I have mood swings—I go from really big ball gowns to itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny cocktail dresses. But gravity takes its hand as you get older! Now that I’m post–30, I think it’s important that my dresses aren’t too itsy-bitsy.

What are you loathe to wear?
Super conservative clothes do not feel comfortable to me. Do I have them? Yes. But I spent a good 12 years wearing suits everyday—so now, there’s some associated boredom.

Who’s your favorite shopping companion?
I never shop with anyone, it’s too hard. I very rarely shop in stores, though—I normally pick out stuff, have it sent, and then keep what I like. 

What’s your favorite event to dress for?
Obviously, my birthday party! I held it at The Box and I wore a vintage Rodarte S&M look with thigh-high boots. I like them with dresses in winter. That’s a very comfortable look.

How did the rosy coif come about?
Two months ago, I did pale-ish pink just to test it out. Then I went with a shocking shade. I find having pink hair is actually quite lovely! As you’re strolling through the Upper East Side, you get a lot of glares. I can’t say it’s the best for trying to fit in, but I like the idea of being a chameleon.

How often do you have that urge to reinvent?
It feels like everyday!

What’s the story of your house?
Our house was designed by Annabelle Selldorf, who did projects such as the Neue Galerie. Billy and I have always been very modern. The interiors were done by Eric Alch. He warmed  up the place. And we loved the idea of a courtyard house—when you walk into the house at any given point, it actually doesn’t feel that large!

Why Sagaponack?
It reminds me of the endless light in Africa, with big sunsets and mists coming from the sea. If we weren’t in Sagaponack, we’d probably be in Montauk, but it takes so long to get there.

When was the last time you took the Jitney?
Probably a year ago, but I took the Luxury Liner, not the Jitney. I rode the Seaplane back in my hedge fund days when I was pressed for time and had to run to get out there to make it to dinner. But those days are gone—I don’t have that sense of urgency anymore. That Seaplane is a little scary, anyway!

Speaking of finance, do you miss hedge funds?
I’m totally sincere when I say that I haven’t looked at a stock since. Not once! Especially if you’re running smaller amounts of capital—like under a billion—and it’s a retail consumer, which I focused on, it’s a very difficult and volatile sector. What I’m doing now is much more challenging: starting a new company is insane! It’s a different set of problems and challenges.

Was vbeauté a lifelong dream?
No! I always had a fascination with running companies. When I first joined the hedge fund, I was offered a job in Europe to work with a company’s CFO. I think it was Ralph Lauren. I’d always really liked fashion and had this idea of working with a management team, but I didn’t think I’d start my own company!

How did you transition?
When I stopped working in finance, I became interested in online investment startups. Then I lost my toiletries on the way to a friend’s wedding in Europe and had to repurchase everything in France—they were very expensive, and they made me breakout in hives. That’s when the idea of a hard, gunmetal clutch that protects your toiletries and scans rights through security came to me. But packaging obviously wasn’t enough, so I approached the best lab out there, CRB, which does all the major, top-end lines.

Who’s the target customer for vbeauté?
It’s for women who want to trade up from a brand such as Clinique, but don’t want to spend $500 for a cream. My target is a woman in her mid to early twenties up to her late forties, and my oldest customer is 73.

What was missing in the beauty world?
I’ve always been a product junkie, but I felt like there was never a high-end quality skincare line that came in great travel sizes. I actually only planned to make the travel sizes, but Bergdorf Goodman just loved the idea of unscented luxury products, so I made them full-size as well.

So what sets vbeauté apart?
The products contain biocellular peptide for anti-aging, and Alpine Rose, which grows high in the Swiss Alps, dies, and rejuvenates itself, so it offers natural protection against the environment, free radicals, and harsh climate changes. I surf and ski, plus I grew up in Aspen, so it really spoke to me. Plus, they have very clean products—all paraben-free, scent-free, oat-free, nut-free, gluten-free.

How does your daily routine with vbeauté compare to your finance grind?
Everyday in finance is similar, to some degree. Now, everyday is different. I’m always ‘on’ to some degree because we’re truly trying to win you over, customer by customer. 

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