Yasmin and Simon Le Bon With Three-Week-Old Saffron and Her Big Sister
interview: Elizabeth Smith
Two-year-old Amber now has a little sister. And after three weeks of trying to choose just the right name for their little girl to live with for the rest of her life, Yasmin and Simon came up with Saffron.
"I suppose Amber and Saffron are much the same colour," Simon agreed when he phoned with the baby's name just as Hello! was going to press. "But we chose it because we like the sound of it. Yasmin and I do have a friend called Saffron, but the baby's not named after her."
When these first photographs of the new Le Bon baby were being taken last week, she was being called Sister Le Bon. That's a measure of how concerned Amber's parents are that she won't feel she's in second place now that she's no longer the baby of the family.
Amber - who also answers to Onion, Bunches and Monkey - seems in no danger of feeling in second place to anyone. Her doting Duranduran star father delights in teaching her forthright expressions such as, "No way, JosÚ," and "I should Coco" (Cockney rhyming slang for "I should think so").
And Simon discovered the best way to entice his daughter to pose for the camera was to use reverse psychology. "Don't smile at Daddy!", "Don't sit next to Mummy!", "Don't put the trumpet down!"
Amber was introduced to the world in the pages of Hello! when she was only three days old. Here Saffron, born weighing 6lb 4oz on September 25, is three weeks minus a day.
Photographed in the Chelsea home that once belonged to Ian Fleming and is now up for sale, Saffron and quiet and malleable all day long.
After Simon left for a recording session with the rest of Duranduran, model Yasmin discussed the new addition to the family.
"It's a shock! How can I possibly be married with two children?
"I'm the one person I know from my friends from school that has been married this long. And I was the one who was the least likely for it to happen to. I was never maternal or broody in the least, and I never showed any interest in boys. I never went out with anybody - I married my only boyfriend."
And you seem very contented.
"I've always been very contented because I've known what I wanted - love - and I've found that love in my life, and that's what makes me happy, love; that's it, nothing else."
How did you first know that the new baby was on her way?
"I always knew she would be born in September, although the due date was October 10. Amber was a few weeks before her due date, although she wasn't early, she was fully cooked. They just got their dates wrong.
"We were in bed. Simon was giving me a lousy foot massage - perhaps that's what set it off! It was a really bad foot massage and I was about to turn on him with my complaints when there was this little pop, and my waters broke. It actually does make that sound.
"The contractions started on the way to the hospital. We arrived at the Humana Wellington in St John's Wood at about 11pm and it was very short. It was four hours and I had no stitches or epidural so there was nothing to get over.
"It was a perfect birth. She came out looking perfect, no wrinkles, no creases."
"Relieved that it was all over! But you do forget the pain soon after and I would go through the whole thing again tomorrow."
Did you have any premonition that you were having a girl?
"No I didn't. With Amber I knew I was having a girl, but maybe because I was so busy this time I didn't feel it was necessary to try and tune into those feelings. I didn't really care whether it was a boy or a girl, and neither did Simon.
"Some people said 'Oh another girl' as if it was something to be sorry for. Simon is so happy being surrounded by this many women, he's in his element."
But you hope to have a boy some day?
"One day, if it happens. If it doesn't, fine."
Who do you think the new baby looks like?
"Amber looks just like Simon, and I think the new baby will look like Simon - which I'm very happy about because he makes a very attractive and pretty female.
Did Amber visit her new sister in the hospital?
"Simon brought her in the morning, and we made sure it was just right - that when she came in I wasn't holding the baby, and we greeted one another first.
"Simon had taken Amber out to buy a present for the baby, and Amber was really proud that she'd brought a present. And Simon very cleverly had bought a present from the baby to Amber. So they exchanged presents, it was lovely."
Did you have a new outfit ready for Saffron's homecoming, and a nursery prepared?
"For the first child you don't know what to expect. You get all excited and think you have to have this prepared and that prepared. For the second child you realise, what is there to prepare? They just sleep, eat, and... go to the toilet. That's it. They're so easy, you just stick them in a basket.
"I brought her home in a Moses basket, wearing a plain old white all-in-one."
Was it a special moment bringing her into the house?
"I didn't want to make a big thing of it, so that I felt I could cope with it, and also for Amber. I never want to make a big deal out of looking after the baby."
"We had a difficult situation because Simon's Mum had just come back after having been away for two months and Amber was so excited about seeing her that she didn't want to leave her side. It upset us sometimes when Amber wanted to go running off to Ann, but it was only natural."
Simon's Mum Ann has been living with you, looking after Amber. Why was she away?
"We went away on holiday, just the three of us, and Ann went back to Florida. As I was pregnant and couldn't really work much, when we came home it felt good just being the three of us for a while. And it gave Ann a break. She's been with us non-stop and she needs a lie-in occasionally."
So she'll be looking after both your daughters?
"Yes, we're very lucky."
Do you have a nursery for Saffron?
"She sleeps with us and will do for quite a while and then she'll sleep in the library with Ann - but I hope by then we'll be out of this house. We're fast growing out of it, we need more space, a family house."
"At night time she sleeps in the bed with Simon and me. Because I've been spending a lot of time away during the day, and I had to wean her onto the bottle at one-and-a-half weeks, I think it is important that at night she is close to me, and can smell me and Simon."
Does Simon do his share of feeds and nappies?
"He's very good, much more responsible than a lot of men I know."
How does Amber feel about her new sister?
"She certainly shows affection. It's like another toy for her."
She's very gentle with her?
"I teach her to be gentle. She can be cuddling her but also sticking her elbow in the baby's leg at the same time."
Amber is a lively little girl.
"I want my kids to be tough. They are going to be given a tough time when they get older because of us two. No one's going to let them forget who their parents are, and I want them to be able to take care of themselves. And they will.
"Amber's tough. She can speak for herself, she's articulate, and that's exactly what I want her to be.
"I want her to know all the realities of life, how lucky she is, and never to take people for granted. Or her opportunities - always make sure she has goals.
"Life isn't rosy all the time, you can't get your own way all the time. That's just how it is and you can deal with it. As long as she knows that."
You've gone back to work only two weeks after having the baby.
"Yes, the timing was a little bit off and I only had a couple weeks to get back into working again."
You love it that much?
"It's not a matter of love. It's the only job I know how to do, the only one I'm trained for. While I've got mouths to feed, I will carry on working like the rest of the planet. A lot of people seem to think modelling is a hobby of mine, but I could think of more worthwhile hobbies. It's my living."
How on earth do you actually manage to get your weight off so fast?
"I was twice the size with Amber. This time, running around after Amber kept the weight off. And in the last two months it dawned on me that I only had two weeks to get it together after I had the baby before I started working. In the last two months I probably lost some weight.
"But it's not all off, the hips are still sticking out."
"No, just working. I don't have time, and I never really was a fit person. Simon took me to the gym a week after the baby was born and I sat on a bicycle machine for about five minutes and nearly passed out!
"The problem is that because I have to work, and I have to look good at work - I have a job where I can't look hideous - it is really important for me to rest when I'm not working.
"I come home and have a nice hot bath and go to bed early. I don't drink much alcohol. Having children does exhaust you, and then having to work and travel - the travel is difficult."
"The Paris shows start soon, and they are very exhausting. I'm only going to do about six. I'll go tomorrow and see everybody.
"Then I'll go to New York and that will be nine or ten days away from home, which will be very difficult. It's the first time I've been away from home for that long for months and months."
You won't be taking your family with you?
"It's not cost-effective. The whole reason why I have to go to work is to earn money.
"I could take Amber to studio jobs, but not to shows. With all the fittings, the shows, I'm out all day and all night.
"This summer while Ann was away I did a few jobs in the studio and took Amber with me. I was working long hours, but she was happy as a jay bird, full of herself, not a problem to anybody. She is a very happy and contented child."
"My mood swings are quite dramatic and always have been. I can spend days being perfectly silent and not speaking to anybody, and suddenly another side will rise and I'll be a complete chatterbox - and a live-wire, just as Amber is.
"I'm very contented but I'm not really that placid. I'm quite uptight. I try and keep an even keel because that's how I want to live my life. Only the people who are closest to me will ever know when I'm going through a bad time."
"I really don't know. All I can say is that the last year I worked was the most successful year, and I'm feeling more confident in myself than I ever felt. I think you can go on and on. Most people choose to give up, because it is so demanding and there is so much travelling. And when you start to have a family, you can't travel so much.
"By that stage you've normally made a good amount of money and if you've been careful with it you can retire early. You work so hard and at such a place when you're so young that you will be able to retire when you're 30, 35."
That's your plan?
"I hope so. But I have no pride and no shame. I'll carry on modelling right until they wheel me off."
Will you put Amber forward as a child model?
"She's already done a few good things - she did the Chanel show. You can't get much higher than that.
"And I've just been told that Amber and I have the cover of the Christmas issue of a German magazine - her first cover of a fashion magazine!"
Any more jobs coming up for Amber?
"I don't know, I'll do any job where they say they'll take a picture of me and my child. just because it's a chance of having a professional picture taken of me and her together."
"Boredom. When I was pregnant with Amber I permed my hair, again boredom.
"When you work every day in my profession you get used to someone else brushing your hair every day, someone else paying that much attention to your head. I'm constantly touched all day long. When you're working, it bugs you being touched that much, but when it stops you miss it. It's the attention you miss. Having my hair dyed was an excuse to go to a hairdressing salon and get all that attention."
Duranduran is working on a new album?
"Simon's been working very hard for a while on a brilliant new album which should be out in January or February next year. When you're writing and you've recorded a new album, people think you've split up or are dead and buried. They've never stopped."
What about performing?
"I hope they'll tour this album. They didn't tour the last album, which fit in very well with me because I'd just had a baby. I'd love them to tour the next album, because Simon's so happy on the road. He loves performing, loves going on stage."
Will you tour with them?
"I won't go on the road all the time, because it's boring if you're not part of the show. I just go to the cities I think will be pretty and where the hotels will be nice, and where there's something to do."
Do you and Simon go out a lot?
"We don't go out very much - but I'm certainly looking forward to a dirty weekend, just the two of us somewhere different!"
You'll be celebrating your sixth anniversary soon. Any special plans?
"No, I don't even know where we'll be. It'll be a happy occasion - six years of marital bliss. I'm very happy."