Forever Young: Yasmin Le Bon
author: Aoife Byrne
Envy may be a sin, but only a bonafide saint could refrain from becoming overwhelmed with resentment when it comes to Yasmin Le Bon. Aoife Byrne profiles the super model.
Transcendentally beautiful, wealthy, happily married to a rock star for 15 years, and the mother of three beautiful children, the half-English, half-Persian model also seems to have discovered the secret of eternal youth. For at 36, and after all those children, she was chosen to model last summer's bikini collection for Marks & Spencers. She admitted to being "very nervous" before the shoot, but she needn't have bothered, because the subsequent photos revealed that her curvy 34-25-37 figure looked just as magnificent as it did when she was 20 - no sagging, no cellulite, nothing.
What's even more annoying is that she doesn't seem to have to try very hard to keep herself in that kind of shape. "I'm doing this for all the 36-year-old mothers who have three kids to look after and no time for the gym," she said, "let alone a personal trainer like lots of people I know." Yasmin does not go to the gym, likes staying up late and drinking wine, yet none of it leaves any trace on her porcelain skin and perfect face. Which is why, at an age when all of her contemporaries are modelling history, Mrs le Bon is busier than ever, and still very much in demand. Betty Jackson describes her as "flawless," while Irish milliner Philip Treacy calls her "a classic. Yasmin has one of the most beautiful faces in the world," he says. "We always give her the most difficult hats because she makes them look effortless, casual." Perhaps one of the secrets of her success is that Yasmin has always taken her career seriously. "I'm not a celebrity," she has said, "I'm a working model." The truth is, however, that she has long been both.
Yasmin Parvaneh was born in Oxford on October 29th, 1964, the child of a Persian father and an English mother. She grew up in the Oxford countryside, and set two ambitions for herself at an early age: to travel as much as possible and to learn as much as she could. And it soon occurred to her that modelling would give her the opportunity to do both. At the age of 19, she walked into Models 1 in London straight off the street looking for work. She was given a contract immediately. "I always knew I could do it," she says. "It wasn't that I thought I was particularly attractive, I just had all the requirements." With her dark looks and stately, 5 foot 9 inch stature, Yasmin was an almost instant success.
Within a year she'd hit the covers of Vogue and Harpers & Queen, and had also come to the attention of Duran Duran's lead singer, Simon le Bon. The two were married at the end of 1985, and became one of the most famous couples in the world. Soon afterwards, Yasmin decided to give up her modelling career and concentrate on her marriage, saying that she was tired of "sitting by the phone with a diary making plans to see someone you ought to be with all the time."
She was by that time one of the most successful models in the world, part of the original generation for whom the term "supermodel" was coined, and she was working constantly on shows and shoots in London, Paris, New York, and Milan, yet she gave it all up to settle down with Simon and start a family. Her resolve, however, did not last that long, and the pull of her chosen profession proved far too great. "I'm a model first," she has since said. "That's my job, and I absolutely love it." She must do, because within a few weeks of the birth of her first child, Amber Rose, in 1989, she was back working. She stopped for a little longer after the births of Saffron (in 1991) and Tallulah (1994), but the lure of the catwalk has always proved too great. One of her favourite things about modelling, she says, is that "I get to gawp at incredible bodies, both men's and women's. I'm not a latent lesbian or anything, but I love looking at beautiful women. I think women can appreciate another woman's beauty in a way that men can't."
Renowned for her professionalism and grace, Yasmin is also a strong and determined woman who takes no nonsense from anyone. She's also refreshingly unaffected and down to earth. Her marriage is a famously successful one. "I've been incredibly lucky," she says. "Since I was 21, I've had this man who adores me, a man I adore. My life with Simon and my family is number one." She is, by her own admission, volatile. "Genetically I'm a really fiery, intolerant person. When I lose it, my temper can be horrendous. But I enjoy a really good argument too, thank God, because not a day goes by without Simon and I having a massive row about something. And we love it, because ten minutes later we're in each other's arms, laughing, saying, 'God, that was great, wasn't it?'"
Yasmin's views on men are insightful! "I have these moments where Simon pretends he doesn't know how to work the dishwasher. That pisses me off. I think men have a charmed life... They're not stupid because they're stupid; they're stupid because they're clever. They know, like any dog knows, that if you play dumb, whenever you do something vaguely bright you'll be rewarded handsomely."
Not surprisingly, their three girls are turning out to be handsome, but although they have occasionally joined her on the catwalk, Yasmin has been careful not to encourage them to follow in her footsteps. "I've tried to make it obvious that it's an industry that chooses you," she has said. "If it happens, wonderful. But I'd be brutally honest if they weren't right." She herself, of course, continues to be absolutely 'right', and shows no sign of fading. She claims to have no complicated beauty routine, "but boy do I slap on a lot of cream." She highly recommends "good champagne, and Jo Malone," and smiling, "it lights up your face, makes your eyes sparkle, and is an instant pick-me-up." At 36, then, Yasmin le Bon is as successful as ever, and says she has absolutely no intention of resigning. "Actors keep working till they die," she argues, "so why can't models?"