Catherine Zeta-Jones opens up about sustainable footwear, vintage shopping and her new lifestyle brand

Catherine Zeta-Jones' name is synonymous with style, confidence and kindness, something that clearly runs deeply through everything she does.

The Oscar winner and fashion maven is launching the lifestyle brand of our dreams, Casa Zeta-Jones. And the first project on her platform? Sustainable footwear, collaborating with British vegan shoe brand, Butterfly Twists.

Her aim? 'To create something sustainable without sacrificing style'.

'My husband is always saying how many pairs of shoes do women need?' Catherine explains. 'My answer is - are there ever enough?'

Introducing Casa Zeta-Jones x Butterfly Twists.

Digital Features Editor Jenny Proudfoot sat down with Catherine to talk sustainable footwear, sentimental shoes and why we all need to do our bit for the planet.

Casa Zeta-Jones x Butterfly Twists

How have you found lockdown?

I must say I’m a bit of a homebody so having my kids home from school and everyone around, I've liked it a lot. And as a family, we've done really well. I always believe that you never get these times back. And in these unprecedented times when the outside world is nasty and scary, I want to be in with my peeps - my loved ones. It’s precious time that we wouldn’t otherwise have had. When my children came home, I was worried that they were going to throw an 'everyone's home from college' party, but they didn't - they abided by the rules and I didn't have to crack the whip. I've been quarantining away out of the States in Europe, so I'm really looking forward to actually seeing everybody.

How did your collaboration with Butterfly Twists come about?

I had a horrendous blister from a pair of shoes at an airport and I just couldn’t keep going - I was nearly crying as I walked. So, I went into this shop in the airport and bought a pair of Butterfly Twists - that’s when I first saw them. Then, when I started collaborating with brands for Casa Zeta-Jones, I thought, who do I want to collaborate with? What shoes do I love? I wanted something for women like me - running around, driving, walking the dog, shopping, working, doing their thing - and what I wear. So I thought, Butterfly Twists. I had so much fun working with them and really creating and collaborating. I took what they do best and created my own within it. They are vegan, super comfortable and able to be rolled into a little pouch sized form so you can throw them in your cross body bag. They’re that small. You can fit loads of them in there. It was a lot of fun and it worked out really well.

Casa Zeta-Jones x Butterfly Twists

Do you have a top favourite pair in the collection?

I love the monochromatic black and white weave and I do love the British flag colour way that we played around with. I fared pretty well with my feet despite all my dancing but they are still pretty wide, so although I love the pointed toe design-wise, I gravitate towards the round toe.

What was your favourite part of the design process?

I think it was choosing the fabrics and textures. I wanted the first collection to work with everything. I wanted a beige, a neutral, a black of course, something with a little fleck of colour running throughout it so that you can wear it with anything and then something a little fun which we have with the union jack motif style. I’m a real fabric fanatic. My mother is a seamstress, I sew, I collect old material and I’ve got a closet full of remnants of fabric that I’m planning to do something with. I love all that, so that was my favourite part - finding the textures and colour ways.

Casa Zeta-Jones x Butterfly Twists

Why was it so important for you to create something for every woman?

My brand is an extension of me. I’m not interested in putting my name on anything to make a bit of money - I love creating, and this brand just represents everything that I love in the world and everything that I need in my life. I want to give it to my customers and my followers as an extension of me, but which is accessible and affordable. It’s for every woman. You can take the girl out of Wales, but you can’t take Wales out of the girl - I’m always looking for a bargain and something that looks more expensive than it really is. Even if it is a really expensive piece - they call it an investment piece - I want to make a deal so that I’m getting it at a really good price. I’m like that, so my brand is like that. I’m always looking at my customers’ price point and the practicality. I designed a bag for a very high end company many years ago and then when I found out how much it would cost to make, let alone how much it would have to cost my customer to make any profit, I went 'screw that'. So yeah, I just want to bring all the special things that I love in my life and my tried and tested products over my travels to my customer.

Let’s talk about your personal shoe collection…

Oh my god. You’re talking to closet Queen here - I have a lot of things in my closet. I have a storage room with all of my vintage pieces in, an archive space for all my red carpet dresses and my wedding dress, rehearsal dinner dress etc. and every costume from my movies. I literally do extensions on the extension of my closet and have to have an archive that logs it all. There are a lot of shoes - oh god I’ve got so many. I even have shoes that I put on bookcases as book ends. I have a beautiful Swarovski crystal limited edition Christian Louboutin. That has never been on my foot, and I literally mean the sole has never touched the floor. You don’t wear them - they are excruciating, but they are so beautiful.

Casa Zeta-Jones x Butterfly Twists

Do you have a pair of shoes in your wardrobe that holds the most sentimental value?

My most sentimental shoes might be my wedding shoes. I had beautiful heels made for the day, and then diamante wedge sneakers made for my reception. I had to walk down quite a few steps with my dad at the ceremony - I think he was more scared of tripping than I was - so as my shoes were on show as I came down I wanted a real heel (without towering over Michael). They weren’t as high as I usually wear them but they were pretty elegant, and then when we had to sign the register, I did my quick change into crystal wedge sneakers of exactly the same height. They were so cute and I could dance away all night long - and I did, until 6 o’clock in the morning. Those shoes will be 20 years old in November.

Why should we all invest in sustainable fashion?

Anywhere I go in the world I find a resale store, from Pandora’s Box in London, to Paris, to New York where I know every vintage store. Everyone knows me in New York because I go and scour old vintage stuff - I have worn things on the red carpet that I’ve got at these places. I get so much fun out of it that at first, I didn’t even think of it as a sustainable business. But, vintage and second-hand shopping is simply reusing good things. I always think that we can all do our best, however small, to protect the environment and to teach our kids the new way of the world. A way where we reuse clothes and where we can cut down on cows and leather. I’m not vegan, but as a designer I respect that for a pair of shoes we don’t really need to be using hide. And that decision is helping and it’s sustainable and it’s giving my customers that option. For some it could be extremely important, and for others it could be an addition that they would never have considered before, something that might encourage them to think about how they shop, what they buy, what they wear and what they eat.

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How does it feel to think about all the women who will put on a pair of your shoes to give them strength?

Oh I love that idea. As an actor, especially in the theatre which I was brought up in, we’d always say that a character starts from the shoes. When you’re in a character, especially when you’re in costume, the shoes are so important because they ground you to the earth. They ground you in the character and change how you stand and walk. I love wearing heels on a red carpet but I barely get through the night, and I take them off at home and go ‘Jesus Christ, my feet kill’. It was important for me that these shoes don’t look like slippers but they feel like slippers, because if you’re comfortable from the ground up, you’re confident in yourself. If you’re teetering around in something, you’re going to feel unsteady within yourself, but comfort will give you strength.

Why buy a pair of Butterfly Twist flats?

Let me tell you something about these shoes which I always think about. If I had to really run away fast from something, I could really do that in these shoes. I could really run fast and get out of a bad situation in these. On the red carpet in my stilettos I may have to fall to my knees and give in, but If I got myself into a dodgy situation in these, not that I would, I could get far and fast.

Casa Zeta-Jones x Butterfly Twists

And the focus on flats?

When I spend summer in Europe, I always have these great aspirations of me in a fabulous dress and heels walking through the cobbled streets of Capris or Rome, but it’s just not doable, unless you want to break your neck. La Dolce Vita was in flats I’m sure, there was no running through the streets of Rome in stilettos - no way. Can’t do it babe, that’s the reality. I think of Audrey Hepburn in her ballet pumps, I think of Brigitte Bardot in her Capris pants and her slip-ons. The secret is they are all in flats - super elegant, super comfortable.

What can we expect from Casa Zeta-Jones?

Well, you can expect all of my fifty years of being on this earth. My travels have been extensive, from India to Africa, to living in Paris, London, New York and LA to my home in Europe. I’ve seen a lot and I just gravitate towards different cultures, towards things that make me feel good. My brand started in interiors, house and home - I’m a frustrated interior designer, an architect, a seamstress, I’ve worked with the greatest make up artists. I just love creating a world which is tried and tested and influenced by my life, by the world I have tried to create for myself, being a girl from Wales. And I am humbled by the joys which my life has brought me. What is the perfect mascara? What is the perfect eyeliner? What is the perfect summer shoe? What is the perfect casual shoe? What is the perfect sheet fabrication? It’s a collection of my life I guess, and I look at it as me from Wales. What would I want? It’s accessible, it’s affordable, it’s morally withstanding. I try to give my customers a little slice of my life - what I love and what makes up my world.

Casa Zeta-Jones x Butterfly Twists

How did you come up with the name Casa Zeta-Jones?

I came up with the brand name, Casa Zeta-Jones, in my sauna actually. I was thinking about what I would call my company and I do some of my best thinking when it’s 112 degrees and I’m naked. I wanted to be able to use my initials. My girlfriend gave me the most gorgeous stationary I’ve ever seen in my life for my birthday - dark red with an old wax seal with my initials monogrammed. It’s all I wanted for my logo - this kind of wax seal crest with the very simple CZJ, but I didn’t want to use ‘Catherine Zeta-Jones’ as my brand name. I thought about what my brand means - it’s from my home to yours - my ‘casa’. And I thought ‘Oh great I can still use my monogram’. Then I passed out from heat exhaustion and had to be revived but that’s another story. But that’s how the name came about.

Did you choose to launch now because it's a time when everyone needs a bit of comfort?

It's funny you should ask that because it was actually ready to launch months ago, but I couldn't announce the news. I couldn't say, 'I'm really excited guys, be excited for me’ when people were having real issues out there in a really dangerous world. It has been such an unprecedented, unstable and scary time so I held off and held off. I could feel people were chomping at the bit and I finally had to let the cat out of the bag because people have been working for me for so long. I thought, 'OK come on guys, let's throw this out into the world and see where it takes us'. We all love the project and we're so proud of what we have done.

Casa Zeta-Jones x Butterfly Twists are available to buy now.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.