Harper's Bazaar (USA)
On GOING YOUR OWN WAY
SIX DECADES into her SINGULAR CAREER, she’s still an ADVENTURER—one who has NAVIGATED her winding path through FASHION by BEING THOROUGHLY and UNAPOLOGETICALLY HERSELF
Igrew up in Charleston and Miami and Tampa. My idea of beauty was a giant orange and yellow grasshopper with pastel wings that I saw when I was a little girl. I chased my cousin Artie around with it! When I moved to New York and became a model, I didn’t know anything about the industry. I got a job modeling for Christian Dior for $50 a week. Once I started working, I made myself an athlete. I uncrossed my eyes. (Dick Avedon used to look up at me from behind his camera and ask, “Are they straight yet?”) I jumped around. I worked hard. But by 1972, there weren’t many of us models left. All the big girls like Veruschka, Twiggy, and Jean Shrimpton had basically split. I wish I got to see them model at 40, 50, 60, and 70. And then in 1973, I read about Catfish Hunter; he was a baseball player who refused to play without a contract. He said he was in a youth-oriented business—and at that time, the modeling world wasn’t any different. I was about to become 30, and I knew I was about to expire, and wanted to protect myself with a contract that would guarantee I kept working for years to come. So I got a contract with Revlon. At the time, it was the biggest one in modeling history.
It was around then that I decided to get into acting, but in my mid-40s I decided to go back into modeling because I was making one bad movie after another. I couldn’t stand watching them. So then I started shooting with Steven Meisel, and I told him, “I’m not going to try and look younger,” and he said, “I love that. That’s why I am working with you.”
When it comes to cosmetic procedures, there’s a real thin line you tread. There are people who I find hard to look at today. Their faces don’t look like the people I once knew.
I don’t spend a lot of time on skin care. I’m usually in a rush to get to bed and make love or read. (Right now, I’m reading Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay.) The only beauty ritual I have is washing my face with soap and water. It’s horrifying. Then I’ll put on the StriVectin S.T.A.R. Light Retinol Night Oil. It does really good things for your skin. I also have an aloe plant. I cut the leaves open, and I put it all over my face and décolletage.
I put castor oil in my hair too. It’s from a beautiful bean. I use one from Briogeo. I just put it on my fingertips and rub it all over my scalp, and it makes my hair a little less dry and nasty.
Back in 2002, I created my own makeup line, Good Stuff. It doesn’t exist anymore. I couldn’t keep up with the business. But I kept all of the compacts, and I always travel with my products. If I lose them, I’m dead.
I’m happy to still be modeling, and I’m still an athlete. But it’s embarrassing to pose in front of a camera. You feel strange. You become self-conscious. Modeling is like playing the violin: You have to practice every day. Now when I look at the camera, I’ve learned to picture my lover’s face, my godkids’ faces, my friends’—whoever I need in there.