Expressing Elegance

What I have looked for in cosmetics is something to express elegance and sophistication. It’s the same with my clothes, or the way I decorate my house.

~ Isabella Rossellini

Photo: Ryan Pfluger
Photo: Ryan Pfluger

Oh, the beautiful, inimitable, Isabella Rossellini is back!

One of the icons of my generation, the Swedish beauty was the face of Lancôme for 14 years (1983-1997), until, at 42, her contract ended and she was told that, despite the success and positive reaction her beauty garnered for the French cosmetics company, she was too old to represent the “dream of youth” their advertisements conveyed.

US Vogue February 1995
US Vogue February 1995

It isn’t often that a giant will admit they made a mistake. And then rectify it. But that’s just what Lancôme has done. In a brilliant business move by Françoise Lehmann (55)general manager of Lancôme International, Isabella Rossellini has been rehired.

Image via Vanity Fair
Image via Vanity Fair

This is a savvy business and marketing decision:

Globally, there will be 500 million women over the age of 60 by the year 2020, making up 15 per cent of the population. And yet, very few of the thousands of products launched annually are created with that demographic in mind – even though they generally have more disposable income than younger generations.

~ Harper’s Bazaar

Lehmann has turned a new chapter by asking Rosellinni to represent Rénergie Multi-Glow – a product targeted at older women, launching in April.


The souffle-like pink cream is designed to smooth the skin and restore a healthy radiance. It’s called a glow-enhancing product, rather than an anti-ageing one. Which is just fine with the 65-year-old model:

I launched the first Rénergie, which really was an anti-age cream, so with this new formulation, I was very glad that the name of it is Glow. It doesn’t mean that women don’t want a cream to help them look younger, but to say that all women want to be younger than their age is excessive and incorrect.

Glow means to me glamour, elegance and sophistication, rather than ‘anti-age’. Age is seen as a disease, but I don’t see it like that. We all age. Why battle it?

~ Isabella Rossellini

Isabella’s beauty routine?

Every day, I use a cream, a lipstick and a perfume.

Françoise Lehmann is a decade younger than Rosellini, but has a very French attitude towards beauty:

The French touch is about never being extravagant, but always being noticeable. Lancôme makeup, skin care, and fragrances are made for real women—not for the runways.

~  Francoise Lehmann

Sadly, not all cosmetics brands have such an enlightened approach:

Dior signs 25-year-old  Cara Delevingne to front Dior’s anti-ageing line, Capture Youth.


Estée Lauder features 21-year old Kendall Jenner for Advanced Night Repair Eye Mask.


See My Post: The Face Of The Wrong Generation

Next to the powerhouse that is Isabella Rosellini, these campaigns look pathetic and, frankly, out of date. Rosellini radiates real beauty because she represents ageing in an honest way. She has lines and wrinkles and she accepts them instead of trying to Botox them away. She looks strong (she owns a 28-acre farm), and healthy (it’s organic), and confident (she just is). She is a reminder that beauty  isn’t a number.

It’s a powerful message.

Photo: Peter Lindbergh
Photo: Peter Lindbergh



POST PHOTO: Peter Lindbergh


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