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 face and spokesperson of Lancme cosmetics, she was told in no uncertain terms that she was past it. Beauty advertising was about the nightmare, managers told her , not the harsh actuality, and women “ve been dreaming about” being young; the actors face would soon become an unpleasant 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 replies she told Lancme that the brand-new fantasy was to be independent, to be strong, to insist yourself ), she was replaced, instead humiliatingly, by the very similar-looking Juliette Binoche nighttime hair, pallid skin, full lips, high cheekbones merely 12 years her junior. Heartbroken at the prospect of losing her errand, her main generator of income and two seconds kinfolk of colleagues, the mother of two expected a elderly administration what she was supposed to do next. He responded, Rossellini echoes, I am not your wet nurse.
It was pretty rough , without doubt, it was hard, she articulates now, as we sit in a magnificent, flower-filled room at the scene of the misdemeanour, Lancmes HQ in Paris, where, at 64, Isabella Rossellini is all smiles and once again the whiz attractivenes. My daughter was 10 and my son was one, and I was a single mum. I wept and was depressed, and I obsessed 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 just eight months ago to ask her to return to the crimp, Rossellini didnt suggest they jostle their mascara up their derrieres and construction it.
She is unfathomably magnanimous. There was that find, when a pal asked why I was going back, she confesses. I enunciated, 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 leaders were humen. The industry was one of men creating products on the understanding that makeup was for seduction, she suggests. 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 labels CEO is now the status of women, Franoise Lehmann, and it was she who became the most recent bawl. Having propelled safaruss fronted by Penlope Cruz and Lupita Nyongo, she felt it was high time Lancme celebrated older age, very. As Rossellini shows, Last year , Lancme switched 80, and we were thinking, what was life like for women 80 years ago? They couldnt referendum or own their own accommodation its unbelievable. We wanted to reflect the emancipation of the status of women that has been so strong in our century.