“I have been a model since I was 16 years old, so I worked in front of a camera and travelled a lot.”
Marisa Berenson’s green eyes and wide smile will tell you in no time that she is the same golden girl of the seventies who graced the covers of Vogue, Bazaar, Elle, Time and so many others. Her face was a staple in the worlds of modeling and acting during the decade known best for its strong, fearless women. She has also served as Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO for over twenty years.
Her energy inspires us, and her flawless style draws us in. Known for her free spirit and happy spunk, she does have a secret to it all. She learned quickly that beauty was more than appearance, and has developed a lifelong habit of eating well and treating her body with care. She recently cultivated a special serum fueled by the seeds of a sustainable desert fruit called the prickly pear. Her skincare products harness its powers to provide sacred and effective anti-aging solutions for all women.
This summer, I met with Marisa on a sunny afternoon. We had tea at the elegant Sofitel Saint James Hotel, located near the theater where she was performing Romeo and Juliet. Dubbed by the Guardian as “a production pulsating with energy,” Kenneth Branagh’s Romeo and Juliet features Marisa as Lady Capulet alongside many other renowned actors.
Though I have seen many pictures of Marisa, I was stunned by how beautiful she was. She carried herself with such grace and elegance as we spoke about her new product, her inspiration, and her glamorous life.
I have been a model since I was 16 years old, so I worked in front of a camera and travelled a lot. I was always very conscious of being healthy and developing a side of myself that was balanced.
BWB: You have always worked in beauty. Can you tell me more about your career?
I have led a life in the limelight. I have been a model since I was 16 years old, so I worked in front of a camera and travelled a lot. I was always very conscious of being healthy and developing a side of myself that was balanced and spiritually oriented so that I could grow and build my core. I was very lucky to meet some wonderful people along the way who kept me on a path of health and balance and harmony and everything that I have been working towards all my life. It is a whole way of life: meditating, eating right, doing the right things for your skin, exercising, being aware, keeping yourself healthy in a world that is more and more complicated, stressful, fast, superficial every day.
Everyone is desperately looking to feel good, so that’s why I started working with spas because they are places where people take an hour or two to disconnect from the world.
BWB: Do you feel as though your beauty products do this?
This product goes out into the world and makes people look great and feel good. I think it is an important part of life to nurture yourself, and do your best to feel good for as long as possible. These products, though they are directed towards anti-aging and regenerating, are meant for everybody. My daughter uses them; it is important to start young if you want to keep your skin beautiful.
BWB: Do you have to follow a different beauty routine while you are on stage?
I do the same routines, just more regularly. Because I have to wear heavier makeup, undergo more stress and spend time beneath harsh lights, I use the scrub and the red clay mask to draw out the impurities and the dirt. Then, on Sundays (my day off), I go to the spa here and have a fabulous massage with my Huile Fabuleuse, my body scrub. It helps me feel healthy.
It makes all the difference to the body and to the skin tone when you eat properly.
BWB: Do you have some favorite foods that you eat more these days?
I eat tons of avocado and basically no gluten, no dairy, no sugar, and no salt. I also eat very healthy foods like fish, vegetables, a lot of fruit and quinoa and brown rice, and any bread or pasta that is non-gluten. I do this because you feel better when you eat healthy. It makes all the difference to the body and to the skin tone when you eat properly. I also drink a lot of water and juices, and detox sometimes.
BWB: American women always talk about the French woman, her femininity, her style. What would you say it is about the French women that make them so special?
Well first of all they can eat more than about any other woman and never put on weight. I can never figure it out… they have a natural elegance, they don’t wear a lot of makeup, they dress pretty cool, they have beautiful bodies, and they have a kind of natural grace about them that you cant buy – it’s just there. They have a sort of je ne sais quoi.
BWB: Are there some women who have inspired you along your career?
Absolutely. Diana Vreeland inspired me. She was my mentor, she was the reason I had a career as a model.
My dad and I went to this glass ball, a big coming out ball in New York; when she saw me there, she said we have to photograph Marisa, and that was it. She just started the process, and the first photographs I did were with Bert Stern.
BWB: How did you meet?
She was a great friend of my grandmother and parents, so I knew her when I was a child. Though I was born in New York, I grew up in Paris. So when I went back to New York when I was 16, she hadn’t seen me for years. My dad and I went to this glass ball, a big coming out ball in New York; when she saw me there, she said we have to photograph Marisa, and that was it. She just started the process, and the first photographs I did were with Bert Stern. I went on from there to work with Vogue all the time and it was amazing. I didn’t know what hit me… but that’s how it started.
Audrey Hepburn, whom I met when I was very young, also inspired me; I just thought she was the most gracious, beautiful, soulful human being and she just had this light in her that would shine.
After that she was very much a mentor and friend to me. She protected me like a god mother; I’d have lunch and dinner with her all the time. She was the most fantastic woman, and she had such a personality and a way of looking at life. She was such a positive, energetic and inspiring woman, and could make anything sound extraordinary and riveting and beautiful and interesting. Of course I also admired my grandmother, but she wasn’t so easy to get along with. Audrey Hepburn, whom I met when I was very young, also inspired me; I just thought she was the most gracious, beautiful, soulful human being and she just had this light in her that would shine. I loved all her movies and I aspired to be like her. When she became a humanitarian and started doing all those wonderful things, she inspired me even more.
And then of course I was inspired by wonderful people whom I met along the way. I have always had wonderful female friends in my life, and they have been a real support system. My friends are strong, interesting, intelligent, and powerful women. Diane von Furstenberg is one of my best friends; she’s been an inspiration.