Katie Holmes is the Yin, in Jeanne’s Yang, a rarefied fusion of celebrity notoriety with tangible versatility that equates to a collection of ease and subtle luxury. Homegrown—the Holmes & Yang collection is 100% made in the USA, mostly in Manhattan and also LA and currently only available in a few boutiques. Fortunately, we can thank Brian Bolke at Forty Five Ten and his discerning eye for making the exclusive collection available in Dallas. Brian invited me to chat with Katie’s partner Jeanne Yang, and needless to stay Jeanne is a doll, and I am enamoured with the collection. It’s all in the detail; quite literally precision and perfection poise Holmes & Yang for success.
Max: Tell me about your design background? Yang: I started my career working at a magazine, Detour—which is now Flaunt magazine, as a managing editor. It featured Keanu Reeves, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, who were all very young and had just started out—Charlize Theron was still a model at the time. I was really interested in the fashion portion, so I decided to change careers, and worked for a small line called Product. We had a teeny, tiny store in West Hollywood; within two years of being there, we went from a few boutiques to 300 doors, with in-store boutiques in every Bloomingdales.
It was a very small company, so I got to work in design, but I was also shipping and packing, and we launched a store in Soho. It was an incredibly exciting time, to be designing pieces that Madonna, Michael Stipe and Courtney Love were buying. It was a tiny fledgeling business with innovative designs and very wearable styles. I started styling our website—this was back when there were only a few thousand websites, my boss was very forward thinking, she decided we must start this thing called a website, so I started styling that. We would get over thousand emails a day; we were one of the few fashion websites that existed in the world. I really enjoy the styling aspect, so I left and became a stylist, and started doing photos shoots, for Shape Magazine, Entertainment Weekly and smaller magazines, and then I decided to specialise in working with just men.
Max: Tell me how Holmes & Yang came to fruition? How did you and Katie meet? Yang: Years later I met Katie on a photo shoot, we got along instantaneously and became such good friends, eventually we were sitting in her closet, and we both talked about how unfair it was that men had such a uniform—its so easy for them to get dressed. So, we created a few pieces, created a sample line and started selling at Maxfield’s boutique in LA. After a season there, we showed it to Barneys New York that was about three years ago, and slowly but surely we’ve been growing the line in a way that allows us to create versatile, easy pieces, that would make our lives simpler.
Max: What’s your design philosophy? Yang: Business casual for women is much harder, we have to do a thousand things in one day, dropping kids off to school, go to a lunch meeting, then a cocktail dinner in the evening. So, how do we make a versatile wardrobe? Katie and I are very conscious of trends but not dictated by them, you’ll find in our collection that there isn’t an overall theme, we are very much separates driven, and very conscientious that women want great pieces that are day-to-day. Our speciality has always been in our jackets and blazers, things that are coupling pieces—traveling women and businesswomen like to have different layers that are the punctuation mark to their wardrobe. And, women are constantly on the go, you have to be an amazing mother, businesswoman, you have to be fit, a great runner, it’s crazy, and look good at the same time.
Max: Holmes & Yang just debuted at NYFW. Tell me about the experience? Yang: We just did our first presentation at New York Fashion Week; we’ve taken our time, and grown real slow and taken our time to get to know our customer. We’ve done trunk shows, we’ve done our own sales, we wanted to get to know the market better and learn our business. We did a small presentation, at the tents, in the Black Box; it was such an honour, very small, with the focus on the details, you could still see the nail heads on grosgrain ribbon, at the bottom of our jackets—homage to Coco Chanel. The details would’ve been lost if we did a big show. We also wanted to avoid a media circus, so we invited only key media editors, and kept it low-key.
Max: What are the pluses and minuses of having a celebrity as a partner? Yang: I only see it as a plus, having someone of note as your partner has been great to the extent that it definitely gets your foot in the door, but in the end, we have to push that door open. For Katie having the experience of being on the red carpet, I do think that you’re going to be subject to scrutiny, and learn. The same as models dress by virtue of proximity and develop a sense of style because they see it on a daily basis, you can’t help but inherently pick up a little bit of it.
Max: What are next steps for the collection? Yang: We want to add a few more boutiques, we are in Paris at the boutique Montaigne Market, we hang with Balmain, and Alaia, and it’s truly amazing to know that one of our white shirts is hanging with a Balmain jacket.
For us, whether you’re Carrie and you want to wear it playful and fun, or like Samantha and you want to wear it the sexy way. We like to celebrate women, in a way that a jacket can be worn five different ways, by five different women.