At 43, Isabella Rossellini was sacked as the face of Lancme. Now, 20 years 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 face and spokesperson of Lancme cosmetics, she was told in no uncertain terms that she was past it. Beauty advertising was about the fantasy, managers told her , not the harsh actuality, and women dreamed about being young; the actors face would soon become an unwanted remember of the ageing process. And so, despite Rossellinis insistence that eternal youth was neither her nightmare nor that of any woman she knew( she pronounces she told Lancme that the brand-new daydream was to be independent, to be potent, to assert yourself ), she was replaced, rather humiliatingly, by the very similar-looking Juliette Binoche pitch-dark whisker, pallid skin, full cheeks, high cheekbones exclusively 12 years her junior. Heartbroken at the prospect of “losing ones” job, her prime root of income and two seconds pedigree of colleagues, the mother of two asked a elderly administration what she was supposed to do next. He answered, Rossellini recalls, I am not your wet nurse.
It was pretty rough , no doubt, it was hard, she suggests now, as we sit in a magnificent, 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 whiz allure. My daughter was 10 and my son was one, and I was a single mum. I wept and was depressed, and I worried financially. As a fortysomething single father of two myself, I tell her I can well suspect. What Im struggling to understand is how, when Lancme called her precisely eight months ago to ask her to return to the bend, Rossellini didnt suggest they jostle their mascara up their derriere and turn it.
She is unfathomably magnanimous. There was that suffer, when a pal asked why I was going back, she confesses. 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 ejected is now most varied. When I was here 20 years ago, the secretaries were women and the honchoes were beings. The manufacture was one of men composing produces on the understanding that makeup was for seduction, she enunciates. 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 firebrands CEO is now the status of women, Franoise Lehmann, and it was she who realized the most recent bawl. Having launched campaigns fronted by Penlope Cruz and Lupita Nyongo, she felt it was high time Lancme celebrated older age, more. As Rossellini excuses, Last time , Lancme transformed 80, and we were thinking, “whats being” life like for women 80 years ago? They couldnt poll or own their own suite its breathtaking. We wanted to reflect the release of the status of women that has been so strong in our century.