Girls On Film
Ulster Tatler April 2008

interview: Mary Johnston

Mary Johnston chats to model and 'Face of the House of Fraser,' 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 I've ever met and I've met a lot, during a lifetime in journalism. Yasmin was in Belfast for the official opening of the city's most impressive shopping mecca, Victoria Square, where she is the 'Face of the House of Fraser' 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 80's chart toppers Duran Duran, the couple have three teenage daughters, the eldest of whom Amber, is already being approached to follow in her famous mother's footsteps. "She's still at school and has A'levels coming up, so plenty to occupy her for now," said her sensible mum. Middle daughter Saffron has inherited her father's musical talent and is already collaborating on some songwriting with him and the youngest, at 13 is "all teenage hormones and angst like anyone else her age," laughs mum. Yasmin told Ulster Tatler that she's thrilled and proud to be associated with such a fab store as the 'House of Fraser' 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. I'd say it's 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. I'm still in shock, but now, it's 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 you've turned 40, you're putting yourself in a very precarious place. It's finally had that effect on me. It's important that people understand that you don't have a rhinoceros hide. It's undoubtedly a young business and I'm just amazed that at my age I'm still being offered plenty of work and that people are still interested in me editorially. The way I feel inside is like I'm 18 and not 43. I feel more vulnerable now instead of feeling less so. You're supposed to grow more confident with age, but I haven't. I think it's because of this business.

Your eldest has already done some modelling hasn't 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. She's still at school and has her A'levels coming up. She's going to take a year out afterwards. I've told her not to be in any rush. I think there's too much pressure put on them too soon, to decide on a career. It's up to her. She's the one to choose. She seems more interested in photography. No, she doesn't 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. They're a real combination of the two of us. They're healthy typical teenage girls. They torture you but they love you and they're all interested in music and fashion and design and are all quite creative really.

What was it like for you to become a 'supermodel' at nineteen alongside the likes of Naomi Campbell etc;
It didn't happen overnight. At first I did a lot of very ordinary jobs and learned the craft. It was a good grounding. You know you're 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. It's 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, I'm a shopper too! It's very exciting to be involved.

How involved are you?
Well, I always voice my opinions. I'm very opinionated. Now, whether they listen or not is another thing but I'm not afraid to speak up and I don't 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 haven't got good genes... then moisturise, moisturise and again moisturise. I've 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 it's 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. I've become high maintenance. You don't have to use expensive products. There are several really expensive creams that I daren't touch. Get samples and try them out. It's whatever works for you.

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

What's your favourite type of holiday?
Anywhere, sailing, but especially in Croatia. It's beautiful. I can't 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. It's always a miracle when it all works out. We've 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. I've always been self-employed, so modelling has worked for me. I've 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 haven't been stocking up, say "when did you last grocery shop mum?"

Do you cook?
I'm not really good, but I cooked enough to feed them. Simon's quite good.

Did you do the school run and all that?
Of course. I'm so over school runs. I'm glad that's all over. Sometimes I was throwing them out while the car was still moving, shouting, "I don't have to do this". We're all very normal. Simon's a very laid-back and balanced guy.

How long have you been married?
I got married when I was twenty one, very young. I couldn't resist him. We've been married twenty two years and it just gets better and better. Honestly, Simon's a really good guy. He keeps me happy. People may tell you you're this and that. I've become immune to flattery. If Simon thinks I'm looking good, he says it and that's what counts. He's the one that matters. I just couldn't live without him.