At 43, Isabella Rossellini was sacked as the face of Lancme. Now, 20 times on, shes been rehired. She talks movies, her baby, 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 dream, executives told her , not the harsh world, and women “ve been dreaming about” being young; the actors face would soon become an unpleasant reminder of the ageing process. And so, despite Rossellinis insistence that eternal youth was neither her fantasy nor that of most women she knew( she says she told Lancme that the new daydream was to be independent, to be strong, to say yourself ), she was replaced, rather humiliatingly, by the very similar-looking Juliette Binoche dark mane, pallid scalp, full lips, high cheekbones exclusively 12 years her junior. Heartbroken at their chances of “losing ones” activity, her central generator of income and two seconds household of colleagues, the mother of two expected a elderly administration what she was supposed to do next. He said, Rossellini withdraws, I am not your wet nurse.
It was pretty rough , no doubt, it was difficult to, she says now, as we sit in a grand, flower-filled chamber at the site of the crime, Lancmes HQ in Paris, where, at 64, Isabella Rossellini is all smiles and once again the hotshot attractivenes. My daughter was 10 and my son was one, and I was a single mum. I announced and was depressed, and I fretted financially. As a fortysomething single baby of two myself, I tell her I can well reckon. 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 shove their mascara up their derrieres and spin it.
She is unfathomably magnanimous. There was that belief, when a pal asked why I was going back, she acknowledges. I said, Because Im flattered, Im exceedingly stroked, I miss them. Its very personal, but I dont wished to know whether Im being forgiving. Rossellini says the company from which she was ejected is now very different. When I was here 20 years ago, the secretaries were women and the foremen were people. The industry was one of men causing produces on the understanding that makeup was for seduction, she says. But I put makeup on even if I go out with my sister there is a pleasure in the gesticulate. I was not understood.
Significantly, the brands CEO is now the status of women, Franoise Lehmann, and it was she who cleared the recent bellow. Having propelled expeditions fronted by Penlope Cruz and Lupita Nyongo, she felt it was high time Lancme celebrated older age, too. As Rossellini clarifies, Last year , Lancme turned 80, and we were thinking, what else is life like for women 80 years ago? They couldnt poll or own their own suite its stunning. We wanted to reflect the liberation of women that has been so strong in our century.