Isabella Rossellini Stays True to Herself - Women of iVillage - iVillage Beauty Expert Services

As an actress, she created the roles of the mesmerizing singer in Blue Velvet and the enchantress with youth-restoring powers in Death Becomes Her. As an entrepreneur, Isabella Rossellini is equally captivating: a free thinker who follows her heart.


Can beauty be bought?

It depends on what you mean by beauty. "Inner beauty," as it is called, of course cannot be bought and neither can style. But symmetrical physical good looks are achieved every day through plastic surgery. My opinion swings from the thought that plastic surgery is a new technology so why not try it, to the thought that it’s similar to Chinese foot binding.


Who is the most beautiful woman you’ve ever known?

Carol Bouquet, because she is undoubtedly beautiful -- and she is one of my best friends. Women who stay true to themselves are always more interesting and beautiful to me. Women like Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keeffe and [actress] Anna Magnani [directed by her father, Roberto Rossellini, in Open City (1945)]. Women who have style, chic, allure and elegance. They didn't submit to any standard of beauty -- they defined it.


How do you react to your own image on screen?

I am always self-critical about myself, but so are most actors.


What sparked your Manifesto makeup line?

My goal was to develop a line that was utterly practical and yet encouraged women to have fun with their makeup. Both elements, to some degree, seemed to be lacking. For example, I never liked carrying around a huge bagful of makeup. I wanted to be able to put my makeup into my pocket and go. So I developed several products that did just that.

Women are encouraged to wake up every morning and look in the mirror to see what they need to "correct" on their faces. I find this depressing. Also, because I do not believe in beauty standards, I wanted women to celebrate their own individuality.


The advertising features some atypical models, including a plus-size woman and an older woman. How and why did you make these choices?

I just began to feel that our standards of beauty were becoming narrower and narrower and that many women did not relate to them. I, too, think that the young-thin-blond look is attractive, but I don't relate to it.

Through our advertising campaign, shot by [top fashion photographer] Miles Aldridge, I wanted to show a range of what can be considered beautiful. Perhaps not typically beautiful, but charming beautiful or sexy beautiful or elegant beautiful. My favorite is the fourteen-year-old girl who, despite her silver braces, charmingly wears bright red lipstick and smiles broadly.

All you have to do is look at art as an example: Look at those lucky ladies with the big, fat beautiful bodies painted by Ingres, or the rotund sculptures of Botero! These ladies were considered beautiful in their day.


What did your mother, Ingrid Bergman, teach you about beauty?

My mother taught me more about style than about beauty, and I think that her style -- Swedish style -- had a great effect on me. The simple and understated elegance of my mother has always been an inspiration. In addition, she considered practicality to be at the same level as intelligence.

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