Yasmin La Belle
Harpers & Queen May 2001

author: Harriet Green


The supermodel who just keeps getting better, Yasmin Le Bon talks to Harriet Green about beauty, escapism and why she hates telephones

True beauty, they say, never fades.  This is certainly true of Yasmin Le Bon, who, at 36, with 3 children, a rock 'n' roll husband and a hectic schedule, looks more exquisite than ever.  Yasmin's porcelain features, a template for classical beauty, are as fresh today as they were when she appeared on her first magazine cover in 1985 [note: it was 1983, and one of her first was Harpers & Queen!].  If anything, free of the power styling of the Eighties, she looks even younger.

It's hard to believe that, for the past 15 years, she's been a leading member of the original band of girls for whom the word "supermodel" was invented.  She possesses a serene beauty that is astonishing yet, at the same time, accessible.  It's a winning combination, which should be a formula for boundless confidence.  But arranging an interview with Yasmin can be tricky, since she appears to be painfully shy of the telephone: phone-phobic, even.  Where other people rush to pick up a call, Yasmin simply tunes out the ringing sound.  In fact, rather than indicating shyness, this reluctance is born of self-sufficiency and contentment - qualities her friends consider to be the key to her impressively long career.  "I'm probably the worst friend in the world," she says cheerily, when I catch up with her at last.  "I detest the telephone.  I could quite happily live without it."

The greatest testament to her enduring looks is, of course, her constant supply of work.  "Yasmin still looks unbelievable," says her best friend Amanda Kyme.  "A while ago, we rented a cottage in the country with the children.  She didn't have a scrap of make-up; she just always looks fabulous.  She's going to age so gracefully."  Designer Betty Jackson agrees.  "She is flawless, incredibly professional and has great manners," she says.  Philip Treacy calls her a classic.  "Yasmin has one of the most beautiful faces in the world.  We always give her the most difficult hats because she makes them look effortless, casual.  And she is the least complicated of models.  She's so nice, you want to squeeze her in all the time."

Yasmin was 19 when she walked into Models I in London and was snapped up.  "I always knew I could do it.  It wasn't that I thought I was particularly attractive; I just had all the, er, requirements."  She still loves modelling, and has enjoyed being part of its fantasy world.  "You are completely aware that it is artificial.  I don't have a problem with that.  Escapism is an incredibly pure form of art.  That's what makes you dream.  I don't think we'd ever progress as human beings if we didn't have that capability."

She's been smart enough to avoid overexposure.  "I'm not a celebrity; I'm a working model."  Yasmin never became embroiled in the seedier side of the fashion industry which sank many of her contemporaries.  Instead, she has enjoyed a solid 15-year marriage to Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon and is the mother of three school-age girls: Amber, 11, Saffron, nine, and Tallulah, six.

As a working mother, Yasmin has no time for a complicated beauty routine.  "But, boy, do I slap on a lot of cream."  She also recommends: "Good champagne, Jo Malone and Fere Parangi [a beautician at Neville in Pont Street, London SW1]."  Her biggest vice, it seems, is staying up late.  "I can't get to bed early; I have to have a bit of time on my own.  But I have always had to use bags of concealer.  I was born with dark circles under my eyes."

She insists that her cool exterior is just an appearance.  "I try to convince everyone that I'm this really chilled personality.  The reality is that I'm quite nervy.  But you have to elevate yourself from that have a good time.  I've been incredibly lucky.  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."  At the moment, Simon, 42, is touring with Duran Duran; this is one couple who are used to such separations.  "But the homecomings are magnificent - charged!"  When she's on her own, Yasmin likes listening to music or curling up with a book.  Her favourite is The Master and Margarita, a surrealist romp through Stalinist Russia by Mikhail Bulgakov, which she describes as "life-changing."  Her role models - Carlos Santana, David Bowie and Ayrton Senna - are equally left-field.

Having exercised, on and off, for some years, she recently took up Pilates, and heartily recommends it.  "After a certain age, you've got to be quite careful about doing too much cardiovascular.  Pilates makes me really happy.  The older you get, the stronger you want to be."  Yasmin famously returned to the catwalk just 10 days after the birth of her first child.  Now, Amber is a size 8 and is trying on her clothes.  "The other day, she was trying on an Azzedine Alaļa dress that I used to wear," says Yasmin.  Although her children have occasionally joined her on the catwalk, she's been careful not to foster dreams that they might follow in her footsteps.  "I've tried to make it obvious that it's an industry that chooses you.  If it happens - wonderful.  But I'd be brutally honest if they weren't right."  And, with Yasmin's career still flourishing, it's unlikely that the fashion world will be on the lookout for a new Le Bon just yet.