Just a year after opening her own hedge fund company in 2009, Julie Macklowe closed it down and started her own skin care company, vbeauté. Macklowe, who lives on the Upper East Side with her husband and daughter, is a staple at all of NYC’s most fabulous society events. For INVEST, the it-girl who’s always at the forefront of fashion and philanthropy talks sample sales, scotch and stocks.
What inspired you to leave the world of finance and start your own beauty business? While I was debating still working at Macklowe Asset Management, I met two entrepreneurs from BaubleBar and was inspired to get involved. Had I not helped them, I don’t know if I would have been courageous enough to start my own business.
Did it feel like a big risk? Well, I was running a $250 million hedge fund, so obviously to stop a 12-year finance career and decide I’m going to go start formulating products in a lab in Switzerland is a risk.
A very specific risk! Where’d that idea come from? I had broken out badly from products I spent tons of money on in Paris, and I thought that was crazy, so I wanted to develop a clean anti-aging line.
As a former finance maven, are there any hot stocks we should know about? To tell you the truth, since I stopped trading stocks, I basically just invest in mutual funds. I do buy some of each S&P 500 every month. Honestly, I just buy a little of everything and hope our economy continues to improve.
Do you invest in any philanthropies or nonprofits? I’m involved in FIT’s Couture Council and chaired the lunch this year. I’m also very involved with the Metropolitan Opera and New Yorkers For Children.
What else do you collect and invest in? I love vintage scotch! I’m into them the same way that some people are into wine. I’ve recently collected bottles of Glenlivet from ’64, ’69 and ’73.
Let’s talk fashion investments. I’m a big believer in high-low dressing. I’ll often wear a great pair of Rag & Bone or J Brand jeans with a Chanel blazer, a T-shirt and a cool pair of stilettos. I’m not buying tons of Chanel jackets, though. I actually prefer to buy stuff on sale, and I like to mix more trendy stuff from H&M or Zara with staple pieces.
So it’s not all about the label. I think it’s ridiculous when you dress head to toe in one designer. The art of dressing is about putting things together in an interesting way; it’s more about how you put things together than the individual item. Spending more money doesn’t mean you look better.
Do you collect shoes? Honestly, I live in tennis shoes, Nike wedge sneakers, Isabel Marant high-tops and Lucien Pellat high-tops. I rarely wear heels, and if I do, I likely bought them a decade ago.
You rocked sneakers with a fancy dress last year during Fashion Week. I wore a gold dress from a sample sale I got 10 years go with gold Louis Vuitton sneakers. I’m a big believer in shopping sales.
When will you invest full price in an item? I try to support young designers, so I don’t mind paying full price for them. Honor is making me a bunch of pieces made from cool silk chiffon—they’re using a lot of color blocking and beautiful floral prints. I also recently bought some stuff from Sophie Theallet, and I love Christopher Kane. I really like Philipp Plein, the German designer. He’s super rock ‘n’ roll. For me, that’s everyday wear. I really like a sweater he made that says “Fuck you” on it.
What will you be buying for spring? There’s a big movement toward color and print for spring. Wide-leg pants are big, but I don’t like them at all. You have to be tall to pull them off. I like purple clothes—purple is one of the vbeauté colors, so I’m trying to buy all of the purple clothes I possibly can.
How about jewelry? I am a really big fan of JAR (Joel A. Rosenthal). He has an amazing exhibit at the Met right now. Every piece is unique and exquisite.
And then there are the ball gowns. I have gowns ranging from Oscar de la Renta to Herrera, the one Marc Jacobs did for Louis Vuitton, Francisco Costa from Calvin Klein. Jason Wu made me a couple of custom gowns, and I also own the splatter paint Dolce & Gabbana dress that was exhibited in the Met’s Costume Institute.
Ever wear the same dress twice? I do now. I’m obviously very old, because I can rewear things. Seven years is the rule, right? Needless to say, I now have a few vintage gowns in my closet.
Does your daughter ever slip them on? She’s just waiting for the day she can fit into one. She has an opinion on everything, including ball gowns, which she hopes to wear soon.
How old is she? She’s 6.
Does she own any custom gowns? Fortunately, she wears a uniform during the week. But for Christmas, Zang Toi made her a dress. That’s probably the most extravagant piece she has, which, thankfully, I didn’t have to buy.