Kate Walsh Keeps Us Guessing
BY JANICE O’LEARY
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ART STREIBER
In her role as Dr. Addison Montgomery, a Connecticut WASP transplanted to LA on ABC’s Private Practice, Kate Walsh faces a dilemma that many New England women confront each year—they’re smart, successful and over 40 but have yet to start a family. Moms in Arlington can relate— that town brags the state’s highest rate of first births to mothers over 40. Cambridge, Brookline and Newton, with their high concentration of educated, high-powered women, also have high numbers of older firsttime moms. When we caught up with Walsh, she told us that this season, the baby story line really picks up for Addison.
Things are picking up for the 43-year-old California native, too. Last year she launched her own beauty company with her first fragrance, Boyfriend. She promoted it herself on HSN, where it sold out in less than an hour. She also made and starred in webmercials to promote Boyfriend virally and connect directly with her audience, something you might not expect from the average celebrity. But Walsh is as savvy in business as she is alluring on-screen. She spent the summer prepping for the fifth season of Private Practice and the 2012 film The Perks of Being a Wallflower, with Emma Watson and The Vampire Diaries’ Nina Dobrev. We got the lowdown on her business acumen, fashion sense, on-set high jinks and the power of scent.
How did the idea for your own perfume come about?
KATE WALSH: I had the idea a long time ago, after a breakup. I didn’t miss him so much as I missed the scent of a man on my skin, or the scent of his skin on his shirt. The idea wouldn’t leave me alone. I kept hearing slogans in my mind, like “Who doesn’t want a boyfriend in a bottle?” or “My mother loves my boyfriend.” I didn’t want to do a celebrity fragrance, and I’d done endorsements before. So I waited a few years. When I couldn’t find that scent I was looking for, I decided to create an homage to the boyfriend and finance it myself, start my own company. It’s a nod to boyfriends, who are less celebrated than spouses but still have important roles to play.
The bottle has the names of some former boyfriends etched on it—did you include them all, or are there a few you strategically left out?
KW: I probably left a few off! The ones on there are the goodies. But I also have shout-outs to my brother, Joe Jr., and a cat. My manager, Rob, is on there, and my dad is on there.
What might your ideal man smell like?
KW: Gym shorts and sweat. I’m kidding! There’s the memory of my first boyfriend—olfactory sense memory is huge. He wore Polo and Drakkar, a little bit of a woodsy scent.
How important is the smell of a man to you?
KW: There is a pheromone thing that happens. They’re powerful. We’re animals, when it comes down to it. It’s what saves us from being computers.
What was your first perfume?
KW: My grandmother gave me a violet eau de toilette in a beautiful bottle wrapped with a purple ribbon. It was like opening a jewelry box. I remember as a girl snooping in bedrooms and sniffing perfume bottles. They’re treasures for girls. That’s why I made it a custom bottle, like a Chanel bottle with a modern edge. Women like having pretty things. It’s accessible luxury.