At 43, Isabella Rossellini was sacked as the face of Lancme. Now, 20 times on, shes been rehired. She talks movies, her father, 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 reverie, managers told her , not the stern reality, and women “ve been dreaming about” being young; the actors face would soon become an undesirable remember of the ageing process. And so, despite Rossellinis insistence that eternal youth was neither her dreaming nor that of most women she knew( she says she told Lancme that the brand-new nightmare was to be independent, to be powerful, to maintain yourself ), she was replaced, instead humiliatingly, by the very similar-looking Juliette Binoche pitch-dark fuzz, pallid scalp, full lips, high-pitched cheekbones only 12 times her junior. Heartbroken at the prospect of “losing ones” position, her primary source of income and two seconds category of colleagues, the mother of two expected a elderly executive what she was supposed to do next. He said, Rossellini remembers, I am not your wet nurse.
It was pretty rough , no doubt, it was hard, she says now, as we sit in a grand, flower-filled room at the panorama of the crime, Lancmes HQ in Paris, where, at 64, Isabella Rossellini is all smiles and once again the wizard attraction. My daughter was 10 and my son was one, and I was a single mum. I cried and was depressed, and I worried financially. As a fortysomething single mother of two myself, I tell her I can well imagine. What Im struggling to understand is how, when Lancme called her only eight months ago to ask her to return to the crimp, Rossellini didnt suggest they jostle their mascara up their derriere and twist it.
She is unfathomably magnanimous. There was that suffer, when a sidekick wants to know why I was going back, she acknowledges. I said, Because Im flattered, Im extremely touched, 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 leaders were humen. The industry was one of men developing makes on the understanding that makeup was for seduction, she says. But I apply makeup on even if I go out with my sister there is a pleasure in the gesticulate. I was not understood.
Significantly, the labels CEO is now the status of women, Franoise Lehmann, and it was she who induced the recent see. Having propelled campaigns fronted by Penlope Cruz and Lupita Nyongo, she felt it was high time Lancme celebrated older age, very. As Rossellini illustrates, Last year , Lancme made 80, and we were thinking, “whats being” life like for women 80 years ago? They couldnt referendum or own their own accommodation its extraordinary. We wanted to reflect the liberation of the status of women that has been so strong in our century.