Yasmin Le Bon: I'm determined to be more inappropriate than ever

“Fashion is not a glamorous
industry. It’s the kind of job where you have to give it so much. You can’t have an
off day or a quiet day."

“Fashion is not a glamorous
industry. It’s the kind of job where you have to give it so much. You can’t have an
off day or a quiet day.”

It is quite surreal to watch Yasmin and Simon Le Bon in grandparent mode. Yasmin, the 53-year-old supermodel, burps daughter Saffron's baby son, Taro, over her Stella McCartney-clad shoulder. Grandpa Simon, the Duran Duran rock star, 59, masters the art of cooing in the right direction without getting in the way, shuffling around the couple's London mansion wearing his signature earrings and his gardening Crocs.

"People think 'grandma' has negative connotations," Yasmin considers as she takes a seat under her garden pergola. "They think it's an ageing word, but I don't care. The fact is that I am now a grandma. I don't know what he'll call me, I think I like Yammy [a mix of Yasmin and granny]."

"Yammy" seems to have barely aged a day since she appeared on the cover of the first issue of UK Elle in 1985. Aged just 21, the fresh-faced British-Iranian beauty was already one of the world's highest-earning models.

She and Simon married that December after dating for just over a year and lived a famously wild lifestyle, working hard and partying harder – the tabloids couldn't get enough. Which makes it all the sweeter that, against all odds, they settled down (a bit), had three daughters and have enjoyed a happy marriage for more 32 years.

With no airs or graces, Yasmin is serene, despite the cast of thousands buzzing around her home for a photo shoot. As she tells me later, she sees it as her responsibility to make sure everyone is happy.

The same, clearly, applies to home. The family have lived here for 26 years ("I think …") and even though nothing in the house goes together aesthetically, it works. Grammy awards are shelved among Harry Potter books, the Bert Irvin artworks are displayed next to a World Cup wall chart.

New mum Saffron, 26, is the couple's middle daughter and is living with her boyfriend Benjamin in a "cottage" (the size of most family homes), at the end of her parents' garden. Also at home today is their youngest daughter, Tallulah, 23, who jokes that her parents are "the ancient artefacts" all guests want to see on a tour of the house. Those six, plus a housekeeper, two dogs, two cats and a lodger (Tallulah's friend), take the cohabiting headcount to 12.

The baby's other grandparents are also visiting today, entirely unfazed by the fact that their supermodel in-law was just dancing down the garden wearing Miu Miu. Simon stays out of the way by going for a run, playing his guitar upstairs and watching the tennis on an enormous flat-screen TV. It's the kind of love-filled chaos that only those from a big family would recognise – amplified, perhaps, by the fact that the matriarch and patriarch are British pop-culture royalty.

"Taro came a bit early so they [Saffron and Benjamin] were still living with us while I was getting the cottage ready," Yasmin explains of the living arrangements. "It's been wonderful. We've had our grandson on tap and I'm so proud to see my girls as mothers and aunties. We had a massive party when he was born, of course. It was more like a wedding in the back garden. If they'd have got the ring we could have done it all in one go. They have so many lovely friends, unlike me at that age. I had about three mates and they all lived abroad."

Auntie Amber, the eldest at 29 and now a model herself, is the only Le Bon girl to have moved out. Empty-nest syndrome is not a problem Yasmin has had to face yet, but that doesn't stop her dwelling on it.

"I've deliberately made them completely dependent on us," she laughs. "As much as everybody wants their independence, and I'm sure one day I will have to cut the umbilical cords, we do love all being together. Amber has moved out, but she's only about 10 minutes away. As long as the fridge is full and the baby is here, they'll be back all the time."

The other valid reason to return to base regularly is The Wardrobe. Via that stellar catwalk career, Yasmin has acquired a museum-worthy collection of clothing. Yet her girls, she says, are only interested in borrowing her most "broken-in" things.

"It's a brown belt that I've worn to death, or the Converse trainers I've had for years. That's what they'll take," she says, baffled. "Things I actually need. We've had a lot of discussions over the years about the pieces I'm keeping for them, but now I've realised that they want to choose for themselves."

Yasmin is putting 50 pieces up for sale on the luxury fashion resale website Vestiaire Collective, including Chanel bags, Gucci dresses and a lot of '80s Pucci. There are pieces worn on early dates with Simon, and others given to her in her catwalk-peak by friends like Karl Lagerfeld, Azzedine Alaïa and Giorgio Armani.

"They were very important things to me, but that's okay. I don't let go of anything easily; even that pram that the baby is in is the same one I used for all three of our girls. I do treasure the memories that are attached to these outfits, but it's getting quite chaotic around here and we need a bit of space back."

It goes without saying that style was vitally important to both Yasmin and Simon when they were starting out in their careers; he as a bandanna-wearing New Romantic, she on his arm in her Pucci-print blouses and micro shorts. The future Le Bons met after Simon spotted one of Oxford-born Yasmin Parvaneh's modelling pictures and declared that he had to meet her. Thirty-four years later, they are still the picture of happiness.

"I didn't think I'd still be modelling now," Yasmin says, surprised that her career has lasted this long. Of the years of partying, she adds, "I didn't think I'd still be here full stop."

"I was 19 when I signed with Models 1 [still her agency] and I understood right away that you need to have confidence. It's not a juvenile world, it's very adult. No one ever held my hand, but I liked that, it made me strong."

Yasmin has spoken openly over the years about her battles with depression, and the way she has learnt to live with it, all while managing her career and family life.

"Fashion is not a glamorous industry," she admits. "It may look it on the outside, but spending your life in airports and strange hotels can be extremely lonely."

"It's the kind of job where you have to give it so much. You can't have an off day or a quiet day, because you're always working with new people and they wouldn't understand. Within 10 to 15 minutes I need to get everybody on side and we need to have a fabulous day. But you can't be fabulous every single day, nobody can. I always found it difficult to say no to more work, but you can burn out very quickly."

Becoming a mother at 24, Yasmin says, was a turning point for her, something that gave her a new perspective on her career.

"I might have been modelling for years, but I have taken some retirements along the way," she smiles. "When I had the girls, it was always at a time when I felt I needed a break. I loved the people, the clothes, the creativity, but having the family to come back to and support is what made it all worth it. Simon and I were taking the work thing in turns in those days, we had to. It wasn't easy, but we just did it. Family has always been a real motivator for me. Simon, the kids, and now the grandkids – this is what always must come first."

"Grandma style," Yasmin says, is something that she will be doing her way, driving her "impractical" Audi R8, enjoying cheese and wine o'clock "daily", and wearing Isabel Marant mini dresses "with bare feet and straggly hair".

"Grandma style," Yasmin says, is something that she will be doing her way, driving her "impractical" Audi R8, enjoying cheese and wine o'clock "daily", and wearing Isabel Marant mini dresses "with bare feet and straggly hair".

Yasmin will not set herself any hard and fast rules about what is to come next, and she has no plans to retire quietly. "I'm determined to be more inappropriate than ever. What is all this 'growing old gracefully' rubbish? It doesn't sound very us, does it?"

This article originally appeared in Stella Magazine, The Sunday Telegraph (UK).

This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale August 26.

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