Yasmin + Simon = Amber and Saffron
Glamour France November 1992
interview: Aurélien Ferenczi
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
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
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."
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..."
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