Ever radiant in her late 60s, Marisa Berenson is in good company: Mature beauties are making headlines all over.
This story first appeared in the December 12, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Take Linda Rodin (age 66), who recently sold her Rodin Olio Lusso skin-care brand to the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. Or Jessica Lange (65) fronting Marc Jacobs Beauty, Charlotte Rampling (68) for Nars Cosmetics and Pat Cleveland (62) on a Numéro cover.
Berenson, who is making her own mark with a burgeoning skin-care business, thinks it’s marvelous.
“A woman who is of a certain age—or past 40, or whatever—is not going to relate to a 20-year-old girl,” she says. “They are the people who buy clothes and beauty products. They have to feel that they can look like that, be that woman.
“There’s definitely a return to [this]—the reality and right values,” she says at her sumptuous Parisian Left Bank apartment, chockablock with art, books, family photographs and furniture from various epochs. “It just went so far to the other end. For me, it’s completely evident that you have to accept yourself in life. If you don’t, you’re miserable.”
Berenson certainly seems, as the French expression goes, bien dans sa peau. “It literally means ‘well in your skin,’” explains Berenson, whose English has bursts of French, thanks to her international upbringing. “If you’re well in your skin—with yourself, your soul, your whole being—then you’re well inside and out. Beauty is both, inside and out.”
A granddaughter of Elsa Schiaparelli, Berenson set flashbulbs popping from the get-go and began modeling at 16. She was dubbed “The Queen of the Scene” for her ubersocial ways; Yves Saint Laurent called her “the girl of the Seventies.” Acting was up next, with roles in films like Cabaret.
Early on, Berenson’s globe-trotting exposed her to different cultures, inspiring her habits: yoga, meditation, exercise and eating healthily. (“I don’t believe in diets,” she says. “I think they’re depressing.”)
Her curiosity about beauty products piqued early, too. “My grandmother used to bring back from Tunisia this natural [prickly pear] oil that I was fascinated by,” says Berenson, who long ago met a naturopath-cum-biologist with whom she developed various products for herself. One day she decided to concoct a line to commercialize. Using the prickly pear oil as a base, Berenson sold a facial “youth elixir”—named Huile Fabuleuse—on French television starting about 2006. In 2012, she signed with Sofitel Luxury Hotels, creating a collection of products and also serving as decorator for its SoSPA in Marrakech. Today her beauty footprint keeps growing, with three separate collections: Soin Sublime, Rituel Bleu and Rituel Blanc, currently available in Europe. U.S. distribution is planned for spring 2015 (exactly where remains under wraps).
Berenson says her own needs drive her to create products that are natural, effective and luxurious. “I only give people what I’ve experienced first-hand and what works for me. It’s all about sharing the experience and knowledge, because that’s the whole point of being here on this planet,” she says.