Yasmin Le Bon on #MeToo in the fashion industry: I haven’t seen a thing, not a thing
The supermodel talks menopause, ageing and marriage to Simon Le Bon
Supermodel Yasmin Le Bon at a Brown Thomas event in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
You might think it inevitable that over the course of her long career a supermodel like Yasmin Le Bon will have endured or least witnessed a fair amount of #MeToo behaviour. Apparently not.
“I haven’t seen a thing. Not a thing,” she said in Dublin in conversation with The Irish Times Women’s Podcast.
“Really honestly, not a thing. I don’t know if it’s because I started a little bit older when I got into the business but I definitely knew how I wanted to be treated and if anybody came close to not treating me with respect they’d know about it straight away.”
Le Bon says she and her fellow supermodels, the likes of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell who dominated the fashion industry in the 1980s and 1990s, “very much dictated how we wanted to be treated. And we stood up for each other”.
“And we talked about things so if somebody wasn’t behaving in the way we liked word soon got out and it’s a small industry. I think considering the size of the industry there’s been far less of it than probably many other industries”
The still strikingly beautiful 54-year-old model was in Dublin for the launch of Brown Thomas Beauty Icons, an eighteen day event next month featuring masterclasses and the store’s first beauty awards.
Whether describing her Prada dress – “didn’t we all have one of these kinds of dresses when we were children?” she says of the girlish frock – or discussing Brexit “let’s not be frightened of what hasn’t happened yet” she is open, down-to-earth and loudly self-deprecating.
She has no problem, for example, discussing the menopause and how it has affected her. “What can I remember about it? I can’t even remember my name,” she laughs. “We need to talk about it. I didn’t know anything about it. I don’t remember my mother going through it, it was never spoken about ... I wish somebody had spoken to me. Hopefully we are all going to be kind to each other and not judge anybody going through we are going to embrace and support each other and be kind”.
Are you out the other side now? She laughs loudly. “Just when you think you are out the other side ... well I thought I was. Let’s not talk about it. I am going to have a hot flush right now. You are bringing one on.”
Ageing is another subject she feels women and men need to more honest about. “It’s not easy,” she says. “On a good day I am so grateful to my body that it’s still vaguely working and then there are other days when I just can’t accept the things that are going on. The way my face is just slowly sliding down my neck, not that slowly actually, once it starts it’s the slippery slope”
She says it’s important to “fill your life” with other things and apologises for her “airy fairy” philosophy that “how you feel inside is the most potent thing, it’s what makes you beautiful”.
The model has been married for more than 30 years to Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon – “I’m bonkers,” she jokes. “I’ve got a screw loose” – but is unsentimental about what makes a marriage work. “There are moments when you get into an easy way of living, you take each other for granted a bit, that’s normal in any relationship. I want to be sure I am with someone because I want to be and not because I need to be.”
The couple have three now grown up daughters – she became a grandmother last year – and she has spoken about “the dark place” she was in when they were teenagers, the most challenging time of her parenting life.
“I will always be their mother but I wanted to be their friend. Some people said I couldn’t do that but I disagreed ... I am not saying it’s easy to be both things at once but I became their friend by disarming them with honesty. There isn’t anything they don’t know about me .... I had them young, I grew up with them. I am still growing up. I am still the same idiot I was before and I’ve lots to still learn thank you very much”