Girls On Film
Ulster Tatler spring? 2008

interview: Mary Johnston


Mary Johnston chats to model and ĎFace of the House of Fraser,í Yasmin Le Bon.

Arguably one of the most beautiful women in the world, having recently met Yasmin Le Bon, I have to say that she is in fact, mesmerisingly beautiful.  Not only is she stunningly gorgeous and still very much in demand for modelling assignments world-wide, but Mrs. Le Bon is also one of the nicest and most down to earth celebrities Iíve ever met and Iíve met a lot, during a lifetime in journalism.  Yasmin was in Belfast for the official opening of the cityís most impressive shopping mecca, Victoria Square, where she is the ĎFace of the House of Fraserí and what a face! She happily took time out (whilst having her hair done by Denise McCluskey from Michele International) to speak exclusively to the Ulster Tatler.

Married to Simon Le Bon, lead singer of 80ís chart toppers Duran Duran, the couple have three teenage daughters, the eldest of whom Amber, is already being approached to follow in her famous motherís footsteps.  ďSheís still at school and has Aílevels coming up, so plenty to occupy her for now,Ē said her sensible mum.  Middle daughter Saffron has inherited her fatherís musical talent and is already collaborating on some songwriting with him and the youngest, at 13 is ďall teenage hormones and angst like anyone else her age,Ē laughs mum.  Yasmin told Ulster Tatler that sheís thrilled and proud to be associated with such a fab store as the ĎHouse of Fraserí and was delighted to come to Belfast for the official opening of the largest (200,000 sq.ft) H.O.F in the whole of the U.K. Iíd say itís a mutually suitable arrangement, with one class act promoting another.

In your chosen business, time is not usually on your side, so how did you feel about turning 40?
You know you never expect it to happen to you.  Iím still in shock, but now, itís skipping by.  I seem to have done things the wrong way round.

What do you mean?
I mean when I was young, I was quite robust emotionally but not now.  By working in this industry after youíve turned 40, youíre putting yourself in a very precarious place.  Itís finally had that effect on me.  Itís important that people understand that you donít have a rhinoceros hide.  Itís undoubtedly a young business and Iím just amazed that at my age Iím still being offered plenty of work and that people are still interested in me editorially.  The way I feel inside is like Iím 18 and not 43.  I feel more vulnerable now instead of feeling less so.  Youíre supposed to grow more confident with age, but I havenít.  I think itís because of this business.

Your eldest has already done some modelling hasnít she?  Would you be happy for her to follow in your footsteps. Does she look like you?
Lots of charity shows have been interested in her and she has done a show.  Sheís still at school and has her Aílevels coming up.  Sheís going to take a year out afterwards. Iíve told her not to be in any rush.  I think thereís too much pressure put on them too soon, to decide on a career. Itís up to her.  Sheís the one to choose.  She seems more interested in photography.  No, she doesnít look like me.  None of the kids look like me.  The youngest one looks like Simon.  Saffron (16) reminds me of me when I was young but not as I look now.  Theyíre a real combination of the two of us.  Theyíre healthy typical teenage girls. They torture you but they love you and theyíre all interested in music and fashion and design and are all quite creative really.

What was it like for you to become a Ďsupermodelí at nineteen alongside the likes of Naomi Campbell etc;
It didnít happen overnight.  At first I did a lot of very ordinary jobs and learned the craft. It was a good grounding.  You know youíre going to be judged and you need to learn.  I had a lot of friends in the business, all with very different personalities.  Some are still friends.

Are you enjoying your forties?
I am enjoying them. I have been lucky.  To get so much advertising is almost unique at 40.

Why did you lend your face to the House of Fraser?
For lots of reasons.  I do pick and choose. Itís important to me to get on with the people around you.  The House of Fraser is committed to making a difference.  They genuinely want to make a great product and at the end of the day, Iím a shopper too!  Itís very exciting to be involved.

How involved are you?
Well, I always voice my opinions.  Iím very opinionated.  Now, whether they listen or not is another thing but Iím not afraid to speak up and I donít mind being told to shut up!  This (the Belfast addition) is really a fab store.  It really is.

Are youthful looks down to nature or nurture, genetic or achieved via products? Any tips?
Genetic.  If you havenít got good genes...then moisturise, moisturise and again moisturise. Iíve always cleansed and moisturised and my girls are following my advice to do the same. From age thirteen they should start.  But beauty undoubtedly comes from inside.  It comes from a happy heart and soul, but itís good to take care of yourself.  Beauty rituals are good for you.  I tell you what though.  It really takes more and more time these days.  Iíve become high maintenance.  You donít have to use expensive products.  There are several really expensive creams that I darenít touch.  Get samples and try them out.  Itís whatever works for you.

If you ever have a day off with no work commitments what do you like to do?
That doesnít happen often.  I canít really relax at home.  I read music and play classic guitar and Iíve started having piano lessons but I donít always have time to practise, so Iím not very good and to tell you the truth, sometimes, Iím sorry I ever started because I donít like not being good at it.  What really keeps me happy is martial arts, Wing Chun. Itís very physical. Itís fighting.  I love a good fight!

Whatís your favourite type of holiday?
Anywhere, sailing, but especially in Croatia.  Itís beautiful.  I canít wear water-proof SPFs because I find them claustrophobic, so I have to cover up, hat and shades etc;

How have you managed to combine a successful and demanding career with family life?
You muddle through.  Itís always a miracle when it all works out.  Weíve a very large house, so I have a housekeeper to look after that.  My mother-in-law helped out a lot when the children were younger.  Iíve always been self-employed, so modelling has worked for me.  Iíve worked when it suited our situation.  The older girls are now at boarding school and when they come home, sometimes they look in the fridge and if I havenít been stocking up, say ďwhen did you last grocery shop mum?Ē

Do you cook?
Iím not really good, but I cooked enough to feed them.  Simonís quite good.

Did you do the school run and all that?
Of course.  Iím so over school runs.  Iím glad thatís all over.  Sometimes I was throwing them out while the car was still moving, shouting, ďI donít have to do thisĒ.  Weíre all very normal.  Simonís a very laid- back and balanced guy.

How long have you been married?
I got married when I was twenty one, very young.  I couldnít resist him. Weíve been married twenty two years and it just gets better and better.  Honestly, Simonís a really good guy. He keeps me happy.  People may tell you youíre this and that.  Iíve become immune to flattery.  If Simon thinks Iím looking good, he says it and thatís what counts.  Heís the one that matters.  I just couldnít live without him.