At 43, Isabella Rossellini was sacked as the look of Lancme. Now, 20 times on, shes been rehired. She talks movies, her mom, Ingrid Bergman, and her rollercoaster life
In 1996, when Isabella Rossellini was about to turn 44, she was sacked. After 14 years as the look and spokesperson of Lancme cosmetics, she was told in no uncertain terms that she was past it. Beauty advertising was about the nightmare, administrations told her , not the harsh reality, and women dreamed about being young; the actors face would soon become an undesirable reminder of the ageing process. And so, despite Rossellinis insistence that eternal youth was neither her daydream nor that of most women she knew( she says she told Lancme that the brand-new daydream was to be independent, to be powerful, to maintain yourself ), she was replaced, instead humiliatingly, by the very similar-looking Juliette Binoche obscurity “hairs-breadth”, pale scalp, full cheeks, high-pitched cheekbones exclusively 12 times her junior. Heartbroken at the prospect of losing her task, her primary source of income and a second household of colleagues, the mother of two requested a senior manager what she was supposed to do next. He said, Rossellini recollects, I am not your wet nurse.
It was pretty rough , no doubt, it would be difficult, she says now, as we sit in a grand, flower-filled area at the vistum of such crimes, Lancmes HQ in Paris, where, at 64, Isabella Rossellini is all smiles and once again the virtuoso attractivenes. My daughter was 10 and my son was one, and I was a single mum. I screamed and was depressed, and I worried financially. As a fortysomething single baby of two myself, I tell her I can well imagine. What Im struggling to understand is how, when Lancme called her just eight months ago to ask her to return to the fold, Rossellini didnt suggest they jostle their mascara up their derrieres and spin it.
She is unfathomably magnanimous. There was that appear, when a sidekick wants to know why I was going back, she relinquishes. I said, Because Im flattered, Im very stroked, I miss them. Its very personal, but I dont know whether Im being forgiving. Rossellini says the company from which she was expelled is now most varied. When I was here 20 years ago, the secretaries were women and the foremen were beings. The industry was one of men developing products on the understanding that makeup was for seduction, she says. But I make makeup on even if I go out with my sister there is a pleasure in the gesture. I was not understood.
Significantly, the firebrands CEO is now a woman, Franoise Lehmann, and it was she who made the most recent entitle. Having launched expeditions fronted by Penlope Cruz and Lupita Nyongo, she felt it was high time Lancme celebrated older age, extremely. As Rossellini shows, Last year , Lancme switched 80, and we were thinking, what was life like for women 80 years ago? They couldnt vote or own their own accommodation its extraordinary. We wanted to reflect the liberation of women that has been so strong in our century.