At 43, Isabella Rossellini was sacked as the face 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 times as the appearance and spokesperson of Lancme cosmetics, she was told in no uncertain terms that she was past it. Beauty advertising was about the fantasy, executives told her , not the stern world, and women dreamed about being young; the actors face would soon become an unwelcome remember of the ageing process. And so, despite Rossellinis insistence that eternal youth was neither her fantasy nor that of any woman she knew( she says she told Lancme that the new reverie was to be independent, to be strong, to insist yourself ), she was replaced, preferably humiliatingly, by the very similar-looking Juliette Binoche obscurity “hairs-breadth”, pale scalp, full lips, high-pitched cheekbones simply 12 years her junior. Heartbroken at future prospects of losing her chore, her main source of income and two seconds lineage of colleagues, the mother of two asked a elderly administration what she was supposed to do next. He said, Rossellini echoes, I am not your wet nurse.
It was pretty rough , no doubt, it would be difficult, she says now, as we sit in a grandiose, flower-filled room at the vistum of the crime, Lancmes HQ in Paris, where, at 64, Isabella Rossellini is all smiles and once again the stellar attractivenes. My daughter was 10 and my son was one, and I was a single mum. I cried and was depressed, and I annoyed 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 simply eight months ago to ask her to return to the fold, Rossellini didnt suggest they jostle their mascara up their derriere and turn it.
She is unfathomably magnanimous. There was that sensation, when a friend asked why I was going back, she concedes. 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 exhausted is now very different. When I was here 20 years ago, the secretaries were women and the honchoes were followers. The industry was one of men developing produces 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 gesticulate. I was not understood.
Significantly, the firebrands CEO is now a woman, Franoise Lehmann, and it was she who constituted the most recent label. Having propelled campaigns fronted by Penlope Cruz and Lupita Nyongo, she felt it was high time Lancme celebrated older age, very. As Rossellini justifies, Last year , Lancme diverted 80, and we were thinking, “whats being” life like for women 80 years ago? They couldnt poll or own their own apartment its marvelous. We wanted to reflect the release of women that has been so strong in our century.