How To Dress... By the Women Who Know
interview: Francesca Babb
The clothes rail on Yasmin Le Bon's cover shoot is a thing of beauty: racks and racks of Dior, Chanel, McCartney, McQueen, all gladly lent by the designers for Red's most stylish woman. It's no surprise, then, that long before the conversation inevitably turns to what the team would most like to steal. The competition is tough, but I opt for a beautiful beaded Temperley dress - casual, floaty, effortlessly chic. When the fashion director laughs, visions of being outed as the office Ugly Betty flash before me. It turns out, thank God, that she's laughing because I've just picked out Yasmin's own dress, the one she arrived wearing an hour earlier.
To me, this sums Yasmin up. She's the sort of woman you want to look like, fashionable yet accessible, beautiful yet approachable; a woman who, at 42, has the sort of covetable style that most of us would be happy with in our twenties, thirties, forties or fifties. It's this seemingly effortless chic that meant, when we asked a panel of fashion-industry experts to vote for Red's most stylish women, Yasmin's name came up again and again.
"I don't think I have a clear-cut style," Yasmin tells me over a decidedly unfashiony eggs Benedict and (gasp!) fully caffeinated tea. "I think it's more to do with ease and comfort; that gives you confidence to go out and enjoy yourself. The last thing you want to do if you're out to have fun is to be thinking about your clothes. For me, it's just about how things feel on, rather than how they look. I do make mistakes all the time, but life's too short to worry about what other people think. Have fun and be a bit brave sometimes."
"Being brave and taking risks" is a theme that comes up repeatedly. Yasmin confesses she hates fashion "rules" ("I'm a bit of a rock chick; I don't like anybody telling me what to do or how to wear something"), and this lack of adhesion to the latest It styles pays off. "It's okay to have some outfits you feel safe in," she says. "I love Chloé, Yves Saint Laurent, and Alberta Ferretti for that. I would love to dress up more, but I don't really have the time, the energy or the budget. I spend a lot of my days jumping in and out of a 4x4, loading suitcases and shopping bags in and out, taking the dogs for walks, and it's just not practical. I can't be tottering around all day."
Despite having three daughters (aged 17, 15, and 12) with her husband of 21 years, Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon, Yasmin still has an enviable size-10 figure. It seems even supermodels have their hang-ups, but this one has become adept at dealing with them. "With age, I've grown less confident," she says. "I don't wear as many tight clothes as I used to. At 42, you wear a lot more smocks! I look at all my old tight Azzedine Alaïa dresses and I think, wow, I didn't even have to think about throwing those on, but I can't do that now. I wear things like skinny jeans when I feel like it, but it's not about following trends, it's about finding what works. If skinny jeans don't work for you, then you have to just get over it."
Finding clothing that suits her is something Yasmin has worked out her own mantra for. "Does it make me look fat or not? It's as simple as that," she laughs. "If you've got some good assets, you need to accentuate them. Whether you've got great shoulders, great arms or a great cleavage - show them off! Distract people from the bad things. Shopping can be demoralising and depressing, but you have to keep trying lots of things, until you find something that surprises you and you feel great in. Nobody has a lot of clothes, really. Find the five great things for you and keep working them - change the accessories, change the coat, change the shoes."
Even though she's spent over 20 years in the business, Yasmin insists that the über-glamour of Red's cover shoot doesn't come naturally. "I wish I could be one of those well-groomed, glamorous women, but I've never, ever been like that, I suppose because I've never been quite comfortable with it," she explains. "I've usually got wet hair that hasn't been brushed and I've screwed it up in a little bun. But that's the way I am. That's me, I'm not perfect. For me, simplicity is what works. I don't feel comfortable with too much going on."
The refreshing thing about Yasmin Le Bon is that, although she so obviously loves fashion, she doesn't take it too seriously. Her choices are based on what she feels happy in, not what a catwalk dictates she should wear. She may be a supermodel, but Yasmin is also a real woman. "I think fashion really should be a joyful thing," she concludes. "Clothes are fun and they can make you feel different, but they're there to help. Someone's face is much more important to me than anything they wear."