Zanna Roberts Rassi is one busy woman. The British fashion industry veteran and mother of three-year-old twins is a senior fashion editor at Marie Claire, a fashion correspondent on E! News and NBC’s Today Show, a stylist for big-box kingpin Target, and as of 2016, added co-founder of Milk Makeup to her CV.
A collection of outside-the-box products with an idyllic hip image to match, the beauty line is a branch of Milk Studios, a bicoastal photography-studio-cum-creative-agency synonymous with downtown edge. Founded back in 1998 by her husband, American-Iranian fashion entrepreneur Mazdack Rassi (or Rassi as he’s known), the creative hub, which has locations in both New York City and Los Angeles, is a one-stop shop for magazine cover shoots, concerts, and New York Fashion Week runway shows and parties. An unconventional conglomerate, Milk Studios has played an instrumental role in launching the careers of Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler, and Joseph Altuzarra among others. “When I met Rassi, he and I talked a lot about what a Milk Studios line would be like,” reveals Zanna. “Milk is so much more than a photo studio. What Rassi has built is different and really special.”
Banded together, Zanna and Rassi set out to create a cosmetic brand that captured Milk Studios’ ethos. “I was blown away by the buzz and creative people I would meet there. It’s like a mini-universe of creative coolness!” says Zanna. “It was obvious [that Milk Makeup] had to be about these people, their unique looks, and the speedy way they used makeup.”
Carried at Sephora, the line is all about multi-use makeup and skincare for time-crunched, fast-paced lifestyles. Eco-conscious and tool-free—the formulas are so blendable, you don’t need more than your ring finger to achieve the desired effect—it consists of forward-thinking, on-the-go staples that can easily be tossed in a purse: rollerball and tubed foundations, felt-tipped, chubby makeup markers; a solid facial cleanser and toner, and loads more. “Milk is a place where trends are born—we will never launch anything that already exists,” says Zanna. “When it comes to inspiration, we look outside the beauty industry: tech, architecture, music, and art.”
Beyond innovative products, the beauty line’s empowering, often gender-blending advertising is also a big player in its cult-status success story. For the brand’s #BlurTheLines campaign launched this past spring for its universal Blur Stick Primer, Milk Makeup cast seven models of diverse genders and sexual orientations. Ranging from straight to trans to genderless, the individuals shared personal messages about identity. The goal was to paint an inclusive, less stereotypical viewpoint about makeup.
As for the fashion polymath’s own personal style, Zanna is an expert at mastering tomboy chic. She loves mixing femme dresses with sneakers, glam skirts with sweatshirts, and heels with worn-in denim. Her go-to uniform? “My Ksubi black overalls with loafers and a bodysuit for work, or paired with a t-shirt and pool slides for the weekend. At night, I’ll wear them with platform heels,” says Zanna. “They’re the hardest working piece in my closet!”
Zanna’s favourite designers are Preen “for all occasions, big or small,” and Ports 1961. This season, she’s having a major case of scarlet fever. “I’m obsessed with the red Proenza cut-out dress from the runway. I would love to wear it on E! for the Golden Globes coverage,” she says. “I’m also in love with Burberry’s DK88 bag in custom mix-and-match colours.”
While a day in Zanna’s stylish shoes might seem exhausting to some, her packed calendar of various meetings and singing twin girls is what fuel hers. “I love the thrill of work. I’m an ideas person, so seeing projects from concept to fruition is the greatest pleasure for me, be that a TV project, a fashion shoot, or a new Milk Makeup product,” she says. “And I love the people I work with. The Milk Makeup team is a super collaborative and supportive family.”