Yasmin + Simon = Amber and Saffron
interview: Aurélien Ferenczi
She likes Altman and Almodovar, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (which she has seen dozens of times), and at the bar of the Hotel Meurice, she is reading Hanif Kureishi's The Buddha of Suburbia. More than being a top model, whose beauty makes all other qualifications useless (is she fabulous? yes, she's fabulous), Yasmin Le Bon forgot to be dumb.
If she likes Kureishi's Anglo-Indian deliriums - especially the unbelievable description of the mystical priest - it's because they remind her, at least from afar, of her own family. Half-Persian (she says, probably because it sounds better than Iranian) on her father's side (he came to London at the age of 20 but permanently exiled by the Islamic revolution), half-English, Yasmin took advantage of her "oriental breeding" in the early '80s to shake up the ways and customs of British fashion and models.
"When I started out, all the girls were very pale-skinned, with short hair and blue eyes. I'm olive-skinned with long hair and brown eyes. The people who gave me my first jobs seemed to be very daring. But this also played to my advantage in the United States; they liked my 'exoticism,' but they didn't know what category to put me in. Not black, not white, not oriental, then what am I?"
However, one man knew what category to stick her in nearly seven years ago (their anniversary is December 26th [sic]). Yasmin married Simon Le Bon, the singer of Duran Duran. A Big Love that bore two daughters, Amber, three and a half years old, and Saffron, one year - Ambre and Safran - as if the last saviors of Persepolis are within them. Couldn't these "soldiers" have kept Yasmin away from the catwalks and the magazine pages? "I've been doing this job for about ten years, and I must have already stopped four or five times. Each time there's one thing that I miss, my salary! Obviously my husband sells records, but we have to stop thinking that we're multimillionaires. And I also want my kids to receive a good education, are you familiar with the standards in England's public schools? Also, I've got to be honest. I love my kids, but I could never completely stop working."
The good and bad sides of this jet-set job? "The fashion world evolves. I have less fun than I did when I started, everything's become more professional, with more money involved. But it's still a privileged means for discovering different cultures and countries, even if you're always working in the same ones. I'm only half-Persian; this means that in comparison to my fellow models, I have a great deal of fascination for foreign cultures. I take advantage of my job. Unlike an actress, who takes on one character, I think that a model must embody different societies and cultures, historical trends."
Yasmin thinks, therefore - taking advantage of the time spent in planes to read, has recently become obsessed with Islam (yes, in search of her roots), finds the European Union wonderful in theory but more difficult in practice ("my personal opinion," she adds, "but a very English opinion"), takes photos - an old passion inherited from her father which guided her first steps in the fashion business. "When I was younger, I bought Vogue and looked out for the photos of my favorite photographers."
And music, because of her husband? "I sing, I sing a lot, but at home." At any rate, you don't want all the members of Duran Duran to bring their wives to the studio? "There is this tendency in married couples to be a bit condescending towards what the other one does, to want to minimize their importance. At the same time, we're really proud of each other. From time to time I explode, I tell him I'm tired of hearing about the problems in the group, but this never lasts a long time. I'm dying to bring Amber and Saffron to see their father in concert."
"I'm happy, very happy; but I still have dreams, that's true happiness." Take a look: more Florence Arthaud than Mother Theresa, Yasmin, like Simon, holds onto the old wish of living on a big, beautiful boat and sailing around the world once their careers are over and their finances are settled. Simon, at the moment she is talking to us, is ferrying a sailboat across Africa. More Mother Theresa than Florence Arthaud, she would offer much of her time to enforce security at the motorcycle grand prix. She and Simon, fans of the two-wheel race, have taken a stable of bikes. A little more feminine (but barely), Yasmin dreams of more children, if possible a boy, mostly to teach him soccer. "I'm the football fan of the family. In '78, during the World Cup in Argentina, I was 13; I collected the stickers and knew the names of the players in each country by heart."
Does she have nightmares, is she afraid of aging? "No, I've thought a lot about it, and I'll be 28 at the end of October. In this profession, once you're over 25, you're already too old..."see more pictures here