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Photo: Arthur Mola

Well, well, well, plus ça change. Lancôme have appointed serene beauty Isabella Rossellini as their latest muse. Quelle ironie! writes Vicci Bentley. Those of us old enough to cast their minds back twenty or so years ago will remember a time when she and Lancôme such blockbusters as perfume Trésor and anti-ageing cream Bienfait du Matin were indivisible until quelle horreur! The brand famously dumped her after 14 years just six days after her 40th birthday for being too old. ‘They sent me so many flowers on my 40th birthday, it was a morgue,’ she divulged much later in Vogue. ‘I knew I was dead. They said, be grateful Isabella. You’re lucky you lasted so long in the business.’ As her senior by a couple of years and a beauty editor on a national glossy, I can’t tell you how depressing it felt that a near contemporary was deemed too antique to represent the beauty business. What hope was there for the rest of us?

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Rossellini first time round

How the tables are turning. In beautynomics terms, we wrinklies are getting hotter by the day – research by website Escentual.com has found that the 55-70 age group is on track to become the biggest beauty spenders. So at 63, Rossellini’s renaissance is not, perhaps, entirely unpredictable. Give them their due, l’Oréal who own Lancôme had the foresight embrace the concept of the superannuated muse, with Jane Fonda, Helen Mirren and now Julianne Moore fronting their mature product ranges. ‘Isabella embodies the idea of an accomplished beauty that is synonymous with well-being. She also maintains a very positive, serene attitude to age which she experiences as liberating and life-affirming,’ gushes Françoise Lehmann, General Manager of Lancôme. ‘I am overwhelmed with emotion to come back to Lancôme,’ La Belle Isabella responds in the press release. No hard feelings, then? Me neither. C’est la vie, n’est ce pas? One teensy thing still bugs me, though. The image released for their ‘iconic’ muse is currently a winsome illustration. When her spokesmodeldom is in full swing, will we be seeing her as she really is? Go on there, Lancôme. Courage!

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25 thoughts on “Isabella Rossellini is back chez Lancome

  1. I’ve always admired her as an actress and for her wonderful attitude. I’m hopeful that Lancome has learned a little something in recent years and doesn’t photoshop the heck out of her. She is still a great beauty!!

  2. Oh the irony, indeed! I wasn’t even in my 20s at the time, and profoundly disappointed – I really liked her even back then. My mom said something like – whay do you expect? She’s old now!”
    Things have changed quite a bit, thankfully. But I am waiting for a real picture.

  3. Rossellini is perennaially gracious with timeless style, no matter how many wrinkles she’s wearing. I wonder if Lancôme is going to take up your your challenge Alyson!

  4. Oh, she looks wonderful, doesn’t she? I’ve long been a fan. And just when I’m looking for inspiration as I try to decide to let my hair go grey … or not… some influence on the NOT side.

  5. Doubt I would have been as forgiving having been so publicly wronged (and humiliated.) I haven’t bought a Lancome product since they so unceremoniously dumped her, out of my imagined solidarity with her. What we do for money… Must say I’m shocked at her for “selling out.”
    Strongly recommend the superb new documentary “Ingrid Bergman In Her Own Words” which features IR and her siblings adding personal narrative to their mother’s fascinating life story. Brilliant!

  6. Many may have missed a wonderful film she did, based on Israeli novelist David Grossman’s “The Zigzag Kid.” It’s my daughters’ favorite, and one of mine, too. I can still call to mind the cloying scent of Tresor…glad to see her back.

  7. I received my J. Crew catalog the other day and thrilled to see Lauren Hutton featured! Advanced Age, indeed…

  8. I’ve saved the first, realistic picture so I can compare when the ad comes out. Nothing irritates me more than young twenty year olds advertising anti aging creams. Come on! Do they think us old & dumb?!

  9. I LOVE Isabella Rossellini. She’s even more beautiful now–her fact has more character and she is just so kind looking! Personally I think the photograph of her IRL now is more beautiful than the watercolor! Its about time older women are becoming recognized!

    Lynn N. I was thrilled to see Hutton in that horrific style guide as well. Gingham moto jackets? Gingham suits? Overload. Hutton had the only clothing worth wearing!

  10. Wonderful that she will be back representing real women and they better not airbrush her. I love the beauty she is now! Kim

  11. When Lancome canned Isabella I quite buying their products for several years! in protest as I thought she was ..and still is ..an iconic beauty. I looked forward to seeing her as she wasn’t one to splash herself all over the media. She has always been discreet and ever so refined in my opinion. Hurrah for her arrival again. Lesson learned Lancome!

  12. When Lacombe canned Isabella I stopped using their products. It wasn’t due to any sort of a protest I just felt if Lacombe wasn’t right for her then their products would not be right for me. They did me a favor as I branched out and found much better products on the market. It forced me to do the research. Thanks to this 1 event I am immune to the faces that come and go and I look great!!

  13. I just bet she loved being patronised so very efficiently by Lancome…be grateful. Mind you, if you set yourself up to promote beauty products, you can’t really be surprised when they decide you are not quite the beauty that want to be selling. Paloma Picasso is another case in point. She is air-brushed into impossibility.

  14. Lovely indeed to have her back. Is it just me, or does the “illustration” look more like Ines de la Fressange..?

    p.s.
    careful how you [mis]use the word Winsome:c’est mon nom, apres tout……!

  15. FANTASTIC!
    Do you think WE need to THANK ARI SETH just a little bit for ALL this OLDER WOMAN in the LIGHT?I couldnot be happier about this announcement!!!! She was STUNNING then and is STILL STUNNING TO ME NOW!

  16. I, too, was a huge fan of Isabella in my twenties, to the point of taking her Lancôme magazine ads into my hairdresser’s. Partly of course it was to do with her legacy, as the daughter of Ingrid Bergman – mother and daughter seemed to possess the same warmth and humour and there was/is a wholly appealing “earthiness” to their beauty.
    I adored Lancôme cosmetics, too, and although I’ve never really made the connection I suppose my love affair did begin to wane at about the same time as her contract with them ended so abruptly. All these years later, I have still never loved any lipstick the way I used to love Rouge Absolu. Perhaps if they are serious about beauty for “older women” it’s time for me to revisit them …

  17. Not believing a thing that cosmetic companies have to say (after all most of their models are teenagers and 20-somethings), I have been much more aware of Isabella as an actress. One of my favorite lines in a film is, “And NOW a warning”. This warning came AFTER Meryl Streep in “Death Becomes Her” had just chugged the eternal youth and beauty elixer sold to her by Isabella’s character. If you remember the movie (1992), Streep’s look is priceless! The fact that it came from the mouth a woman who had been a long time spokesmodel for Lancôme made it doubly ironic…

    Regarding the illustration – even the darling Ines de la Fressange does not look THAT good any more.

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