Since stepping down after from her namesake brand last December, Bobbi Brown hasn't given herself much downtime. Last month, the makeup artist and cosmetics mogul told The Cut that she wanted to go back to her creative and entrepreneurial roots, and now she's doing just that. On Monday evening, she launched JustBobbi, a series of concept shop-in-shops in Lord & Taylor, which gives customers an all-around deep dive into Brown's core philosophy through an edited mix of items in the wellness, lifestyle and fashion categories.
In the New York flagship on Fifth Avenue, the shop sits on the first floor like a little hipster-zen oasis set against cherry wood, light greenery and minimalist angles. The shopgirls are dressed in classic Bobbi Brown #aesthetic: cuffed skinny jeans, Breton shirts, navy blazers and Adidas Superstars, which Brown herself was also wearing, but with a platform sole (more on that in a bit). The concept shop-in-shop offers Brown's personal favorites, including Adidas track suits, Levi's, Joe's and Hudson denim, Apa Beauty lip scrubs and teeth whitening kits, philanthropic T-shirt brands good hYOUman and n:Philanthropy and Giles & Brother leather bracelets.
Of course, there's lots of Bobbi, too: her book Beauty from the Inside Out, Brown-branded sunglasses, hero items from her namesake beauty line (Gel Eyeliner and Shimmer Brick, check and check) and copious amounts of encouraging "Bobbi-isms," like a soft gray sweatshirt with "Got This" emblazoned on the front in sequins. The justBobbi shops will be updated with Brown's new picks every month and original video #content will launch on both Lord & Taylor's and Brown's websites starting on April 21.
Brown personally chose the brands she wanted to collaborate with, and she aimed for a very high bar when she first brainstormed with L&T President Liz Rodbell. "It's funny because Liz just said she wanted to do these collaborations with me and brands I love. And I go: 'Great, Gucci!;" Brown laughs as she chatted with Fashionista in the shop-in-shop. "'We can reach high, but let's say maybe Adidas,' [Rodbell said.]"
The beauty icon, who was also appointed Creative Consultant this week, has long embraced and celebrated her confidently casual aesthetic. "My personal style — even if I had a beautiful Jil Sander outfit — I can't have like really fancy shoes and fancy earrings and fancy makeup," she says. So clearly she'd be really into this streetwear craze. "The Supreme and Louis Vuitton [collaboration]: Is that ever coming out?!" she asks excitedly. But "I'm not on the wait list, no. I'm not one of those people."
Once we got our initial chit-chat out of the way, we were ready to really talk about Brown's approach to lifestyle, wellness and fashion, where she discovered her new favorite indie handbag line and what the self-professed sneaker-head really feels about wedge styles. Read on for the highlights.
How did you take your core philosophy and messaging and put it into the wellness, lifestyle and fashion categories, and specifically these items and brands in justBobbi?
Well, first of all, there's nothing more important than your health. People always say to me, 'How do you have so much energy all the time?' Because honestly I eat really healthy and I take care of myself, and that's what the new book is about: what you put in your body. But then if you think of all the different lifestyle things in here and, I'm telling you, a pair of sneakers — if I was taller than five feet tall, I'd be wearing them all night. But when I have to go to events, I have to put high shoes on, but my sneakers are always in my bag. [Note: Brown did change into a pair of high Prada flatforms for the launch party.]
A bunch of the things [in my shop] are very lifestyle, like this [Ampersand as Apostrophe, below] bag. I love these bags. I actually found [the brand] on Instagram — she's this new young cool indie designer — years ago. She took a paper shopping bag, turned it inside out and made leather out of it. And then she's got these cool pouches that snap in. I could never find things in my bag.
With beauty, your message has always about embracing your own beauty and natural qualities. How does fashion send that message in comparison?
Honestly, I think it's the same because I'm someone who's always taught women how to be confident. And what is confidence? It just means you're comfortable in your own skin. And for me, if I wear clothes that I feel good in, I feel confident. I don't look good in dresses. I don't wear dresses, I wear jeans. I've worn jeans to the White House. I wear them on TV. I wear them almost every day of my life.
When did you wear jeans to the White House?
Well, not the State Dinner [in 2016]. I think I wore a dress to the State Dinner: a slip dress and then a bomber jacket on top of it, because that was my way. I did a lot of things with Mrs. Obama and her empowerment, and so I did a lot of things at the White House and I went to every Christmas and Hanukkah party they had. I brought a different kid each time.
How do the fashion, wellness and lifestyle categories allow you to express yourself in a way you couldn't with beauty?
In wellness, it's honestly such a personal thing that if you feel good, you look good. So how you can express yourself is literally throwing on a pair of Lululemon leggings with a big sweater and going to dinner and being okay with it because you're healthy and you're fit. If you're not healthy and fit, you can't do it. And honestly if you're healthy and you're fit, you don't need that much makeup. I mean I don't even wear a lot of makeup. I don't even wear foundation anymore. I wear the Bobbi tinted moisture balm. It's all I wear now.
You told New York Magazine last month that you wanted to go back to being creative and entrepreneurial. What's next for you then?
Well, I am because I know nothing else. And that's why a project like this is so much fun, because I don't even know what it's going to be. We worked on it for a couple of months, and now it's here and now it's going to really going to unfold into some cool, interesting things. I'm open and I love nothing better than collaborating with other creative people to see some cool things that we could do.
Like Gucci! You never know!
Last question: You mentioned that you prefer sneakers but have to wear heels sometimes for height. How do you feel about wedge sneakers?
Well, I got platforms [points to the thicker sole on her Adidas Superstars]. I do platforms more than wedges. I think they're more comfortable. Most of the time I just wear regular sneakers and when I travel with my husband, we get up in the morning and we put our walking clothes on and we go to breakfast, we walk. We go to lunch, we walk. We come home before dinner and I'll get like 20,000 steps, so I have different sneakers for different things. I've found New Balance sneakers are the best walking sneakers that you can actually [wear to] go to restaurants. Where I'm not sure my beautiful Adidas [sneakers] would make it 20,000 steps. I'll have to try. They're great for a day of shopping.
justBobbi shops are located in five Lord & Taylor locations (Manhattan, Garden City and Westchester in New York, Brown's hometown of Oakbrook, Illinois, and Stamford, Connecticut) and online at lordandtaylor.com.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.