In head-to-toe St. John, Kate Winslet, the new face of the iconic brand, turns on her Oscar-winning screen-star-magnetism in three short films directed by Craig McDean. “You turn on the film camera and she just looks at you. Literally, Craig, the cameraman, and I all at the same time went, [gasps],” says Trey Laird, the legendary ad man and head of Laird + Partners responsible for forging this partnership. “It was like a magnetic force field being projected.”
Kate Winslet for St. John
On the heels of St. John’s collaboration with Angelina Jolie, Laird, who famously brought on Madonna to revive a fledgling Gap in 2003, wanted to move in a “more authentic” direction. “It’s not about, ‘Oh, what celebrity will we pick?’ It’s really trying to find these people that will really bring your brand to life,” says Laird. “When it’s an authentic fit, it’s really a powerful thing.”
The authenticity also resonates with Winslet’s well-publicized commitment to what she calls “real shape”—an image free of overzealous retouching. “She’s ageless and the idea of trying to make her totally Photoshopped and airbrush-y was so not appealing,” says Laird. “I don’t think that would have represented what we wanted to say.” On-screen, her face beautifully displays the tiny lines and wrinkles other starlets might have wanted wiped away, and she flaunts an amazing hourglass figure in a sexy body-hugging number. “She just really is the real deal. She’s a really really smart, cool, intelligent, great personality, great person to be around. I couldn’t have had a better experience,” says Laird.
And as if those glowing remarks weren’t enough, Laird was quick to recount that Winslet recently saved Richard Branson’s mom from a burning building while vacationing on his private Island. “Kate ran back inside and got Richard Branson’s 90-year-old mother and carried her out of the house,” says Laird. “So now, not only is she amazing and beautiful and intelligent and talented, she’s also a hero!”