The Woman Who Married Simon Le Bon
Madame Class September 1998

interview compiled by: Margaux Friedman
translation: Liliana

In the 80's she was the best paid top model in the world, but since she got married to Simon Le Bon her life has changed. "Today my true job is to be a mum," Yasmin Parvenah says proudly.

There are mornings when I look into the mirror and I don't see anyone.  I don't see myself, Yasmin Parvenah Le Bon. I don't see my dark eyes, my thin face, my long hair down to my shoulders. Then I try to look better into the mirror and I reach around around the mirror with my hand to lighten it up and to keep away the shadows. And I stay there uselessly waiting for my own image that suddenly comes up from the mirror, but nothing.

Instead it happens that the indefinite picture of an ordinary woman, very anonymous, a kind of Cinderella, emerges very slowly from nothingness. Without make-up, without jewellery, dressed so-so, with jeans, a shirt and nothing more. I stand there to look at her. "But who is she?" I ask myself. Then little by little the image becomes more familiar, it appears a little bit clearer and I realize that those dark eyes, that thin face and that long hair down to the shoulders belong to me. They are mine. And that ordinary woman, so anonymous, vaguely scared, I dare say not even so beautiful, is me.

Yes, it's me, Yasmin Parvenah Le Bon. A woman who thinks normality comes first and this is her real success, it's what I am. An ordinary woman, similar to every woman every one of us touches lightly every day without turning, without even noticing, walking down the street. Anonymous by inclination or by choice, or maybe both, I don't know. Or it's better, I know it well and I'm happy this way. I'm happy about a life where fame and my job come after everything. After my parents, after my husband, Simon Le Bon, the lead singer of Duran Duran, and especially after our three children: Amber Rose, who is 9 years old, Saffron, who is seven and Tallulah, the little one, who is nearly four.

My entire life, my life and Simon's, is dedicated to them. In fact my first true job, the one which is the most difficult and exacting, isn't to do catwalks, isn't to smile at photographers ready to shoot pictures near the catwalk, isn't to change clothes the fastest way or to do spots and fashion editorials. My true job is to take care of and look after my three daughters seriously. As every ordinary mother does every day, with all the daily, fixed appointments mothers have: to prepare breakfast, to take the children to school, to fetch them, to talk to their teachers, to help them with their homework, to share the little emotions of their age and to organize weekends that are always different, always the most engaging ones, searching for open spaces where they can have fun with joy and cheerfulness. Maybe there are already some results. Amber, Saffron and Tallulah are growing up like ordinary children, indifferent to a very famous mum and dad; in fact when they watch us on TV, they are very fast at changing the channel.

Sometimes I'm the first to be surprised by my normality – abnormality. If I stop thinking, if I look myself in the famous mirror, I wonder how it could be possible that a person like me could be considered a fascinating top model and have lots of success. Because I really consider myself a bit like Cinderella, maybe even less beautiful than her, one who changes into a princess and then, when the spell is broken, turns back to her real job, the one of being a mother, the only one that gives me strong emotions these days.

My pride is to prove to myself I don't need nannies, even if I do somersaults taking turns with Simon if it is useful, when his or my engagements lead us to stay away from home, when my husband has a concert or when I am "obliged" to model.

I don't care about something else, I swear it: cheers during catwalks, photos in magazines, hearing stylists' compliments: "Ah! Yasmin you are divineeeee..." I'm not telling you I'm totally indifferent to all this, otherwise I will enclose myself in a hermitage, but I also feel inclined to give up success and lots of job offers for my family. Sacrifices? I won't call them so. But to be away for a long time from my three nasty little girls and to lose the most important moments during their growth would be a great sacrifice for me. Maybe they are only compromises, which I have accepted with an interior peacefulness that has allowed me to put away lots of ambitions and to think the only thing that counts in life is to love and to be loved, trying to keep intact one's own independence and one's own freedom of thinking. I think this way of leading my life comes from the East, above all from my father who is Iranian, and he has handed down to me a philosophy, an ethics very distant from the materialism of the Western world, from success and from money. He has taught me that the only thing that counts and that one has to aspire to is happiness. And in order to obtain it one must be satisfied, not to pretend impossible things, to build happiness up with patience, with perseverance, day after day, how I saw inside Persian families, where mothers boast of guarding a small secret jealously, a big truth: to take care to the heart instead of money.

Well, you have already realized that my life has already taken a different direction from the one that other models generally share. I don't care about scandals, about being in gossip magazines, about being followed by photographers, about changing lovers every week, dressing fashionably, travelling with limousines and turning into a firm that makes pounds. No, no; it's not for me. I have nothing to do with that artificial world. And it is as if I lead a double parallel life: one real, the one of being a mother, the other absolutely unreal, the one which has turned an ordinary girl in a very requested top model during all these years.

Moreover I realize that it is not easy to work with a person like me. With a person who, at any moment, can throw up a job appointment, almost without notice, for reasons other people can consider petty or stupid, but certainly not that I consider them to be a priority.

As it has happened a bit with Madame, this interview changed from Thursday to the following Monday because I had to take Tallulah to a birthday party, and the photo shoot cut off at 6 p.m. because I had to run to Amber's school in order to persuade her teachers to excuse her from her Latin lessons, a language that seems to me so out of time for a girl like her who has a good artistic inclination.

From an economic point of view I'm more similar to ordinary women than to VIPs too, in fact I have the same problems they have. Notwithstanding our jobs, that of course enable us to earn lots of money, every month we must do the accounts with big investments, not always drawn, which go before the tour and Simon's album. Moreover for some time we have had to pay for the restructuring of our new house in the countryside around the Thames in Putney, just a bit out of London, and we hope to end it within this year. It's a house with a big garden that we have chosen for our little girls, because they could live in open spaces. It's a magical place in a way that I like very much, the only place where, as soon as possible, I'm able to cut myself off, maybe reading a book without thinking about the future.

My real fortune, I admit it, has been to meet a man who loves normality like me. Notwithstanding Simon's fans, notwithstanding hit parades, notwithstanding Duran Duran's endless success (in England it doesn't make any sign of losing importance), Simon is an old-fashioned man. He is, like me, convinced that a marriage is a very serious thing, that it has to last forever, and it mustn't be a seasonal happening that goes out of fashion. Our marriage has been going on for 13 years, since when I was 21 years old and one day Simon Le Bon fell in love with me seeing a photo on a fashion magazine. He says he was "so dazzled" to oblige his managers and his friends to find me immediately, at all costs. Then one day he phoned my agency, he asked for an appointment with me, as if it was a matter of a job, and from that moment on we became inseparable.

In a way a love born by chance. Before meeting him I wasn't a person who was crazy for Simon Le Bon, like Duran Duran's millions of fans. Of course, I liked his band's music a lot, but he meant absolutely nothing to me, instead…. The thing that has surprised me in all these years is that Simon has proved to be a perfect father, too. But he is not the kind of father that most people mean today, that is ready to be a duplicate of a mother. No, I wouldn't like it at all, because a father is and must remain a man with his way of thinking, with his feelings which are different from those of a woman, so I don't think he can substitute her, and after all she can't substitute him.

Cinderella, top model, full-time mother. In front of me there is always that mirror that in every single moment of the day seems to want to look into my most inner secret soul, that part I don't even know well. Now who is the person I see in the mirror? Only a woman – beautiful, plain, I don't know – who has seen to materialize her childhood dream, the one of leading a life in the name of love, the only possible way, I believe, to truly reach happiness.