K A T I E H O L M E S :
The Girl Next Door
Katie Holmes on her fashion renaissance: “I have a natural gravitation towards designers that make it easier”
Vogue - Australia
By Danielle Gay
When I compliment Katie Holmes on her linen Zimmermann suit during our interview, she confesses almost straight away that she has a stylist. “I work with people who help me get dressed for different events,” Holmes insists. “I don't do it all on my own. I work with a stylist who's very good and she always comes with an interesting point of view and so that inspires me as a creative person.” Although branding herself a “creative person,” it seems like an understatement when it comes to describing Holmes, who has had an incredible acting career spanning from Dawson’s Creek to Batman, and is now working as a successful producer and director. In addition to the Hollywood-centric hats she wears, she is also a philanthropist, something she explained while in Sydney carrying out one of her most important roles yet—as the National Ambassador for McHappy Day 2019. And it’s a role she takes very, very seriously.
“I was really thrilled when I was asked to be the ambassador for McHappy Day, and I couldn't wait to come,” Holmes says. “I've always had wonderful experiences here in Australia.” For this trip, Holmes hit the ground running, spending time meeting families who are currently living at Ronald McDonald House, before visiting McDonald’s Haberfield on the big day—McHappy Day, that is. “It's been an incredibly profound and moving experience because people have been so generous with their stories,” she shares. “Hearing how much Ronald McDonald charities means to these people … to not have to worry about where they're going to stay, and food, and it just relieves them of that stress. All of them said that that just means so much at this very difficult time in their lives. It creates a sense of normalcy during a time of a lot of abnormality and chaos.”
Holmes shared there is a personal reason she was interested in getting involved with a charity that focuses on sick children. “I was born premature. So I was in the hospital for about a month and [my mum] still goes and volunteers at the neonatal unit, which makes me feel special. I come from a long lineage of women who devote a lot of time in service of others and so I've been doing that for a while.” Holmes, who grew up in Toledo, Ohio, adds that her mother taught her the importance of helping others from a young age. “That was a part of our life. I would go and volunteer with her at a homeless shelter. It’s really important to me to feel a part of the community and feel a sense of contribution.”
Another community which she contributes to, whether knowingly or not, is the fashion industry. This year, Holmes has undergone what is being touted in fashion circles as a style renaissance, and yet she sees it differently. “I just wear pieces that I like,” she says. “It's sort of like finding the right designers that can make your life easier and make it look effortless.”
Some of the labels she’s been gravitating toward for this reason are Wardrobe NYC, Dion Lee, Zimmermann and of course, Khaite. The latter is the brand that earnt her plenty of headlines back in September, when a photograph of her hailing a cab in New York City went viral. At the time, the actor was wearing an oat-coloured cashmere cardigan and matching knitted bralette. The picture was everywhere and fashion editors and influencers alike were scrambling to secure the set for their own wardrobes. It sold out an hour after she wore it. Although Holmes downplays her influence on fashion, it’s undeniable. After all, the power to make a cashmere bra and matching cardigan go viral is not power that everyone holds. She does acknowledge that there’s power in fashion, though.
“I've been an admirer of fashion and of designers for my whole life. And when I'm acting in a film or directing a film, so much of storytelling to me is the wardrobe. There's such a power in clothing and I think for women, it's a wonderful way to express ourselves.”
Holmes does, as she says, have help—from stylist Allison Bornstein—but she also insists that what we call her “fashion renaissance” is simply her searching for an outfit that makes it easier to get dressed in the morning. “My approach to fashion is ... I don't want it to be very difficult. You spend a day here [at Ronald McDonald House] and it puts in perspective all of the things that people are going through in the world. So I try to not spend too much time on my outward appearance and work more on being better inside. When it comes to fashion, I not only depend on Allison, but I have a natural gravitation towards designers that make it easier.”
Back home in New York, Holmes is currently working on directing a film called The Secret, which is out in April. She’s also putting together another project which she will direct in 2020 and although she has been “working on it for a long time” she can’t share any further details just yet.
Although it’s been a whirlwind trip to Australia for Holmes this time, it’s one that Jo Feeney, Head of Marketing at McDonalds, confirms has been more than worthwhile. “Katie is a wonderful person and having someone like Katie, who has got such a presence, enables us to get that sort of awareness that we really need to raise critical funds for McDonald House charities,” Feeney told Vogue. “I think with Katie's help we should be able to beat our $5 million target [for McHappy Day].”
For Holmes, it was a “lovely” trip which she said summed up as “a gift.”
“The families here have been so lovely. I never want to intrude on somebody's life, especially when they're going through a difficult time, and people have been very open, which is very kind. I've met such beautiful children that, really their strength and their optimism is so powerful. It's such a gift for us to receive.”