Marisa Berenson Talks 'Titties,' Tom Ford and Actresses vs. Models at Her Book Launch

The idea of having a charmed life seems very far-fetched these days, but Marisa Berenson is living proof that it's possible. Elsa Schiaparelli is Marisa's grandmother, and Diana Vreeland was a good family friend who put Marisa in Vogue at the age of 16 (well, actually, Marisa first appeared in Vogue as a baby when her christening portrait, shot by Irving Penn, was printed in the glossy.) She went on to have a stellar career as a model, being lensed by the likes of Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Hiro, and Richard Avedon. She eventually smashed through the model/actress barrier, with a breakout turn in Stanley Kubrick's film Barry Lyndon. While we could go on and on about her accomplishments and career, luckily we don't have to: Marisa has a book out now titled Marisa Berenson: A Life in Pictures (Rizzoli, 2011) which was edited by Steven Meisel. As the title suggests, it's a pictorial retrospective, and much like Marisa herself, stunning and completely fascinating.
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The idea of having a charmed life seems very far-fetched these days, but Marisa Berenson is living proof that it's possible. Elsa Schiaparelli is Marisa's grandmother, and Diana Vreeland was a good family friend who put Marisa in Vogue at the age of 16 (well, actually, Marisa first appeared in Vogue as a baby when her christening portrait, shot by Irving Penn, was printed in the glossy.) She went on to have a stellar career as a model, being lensed by the likes of Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Hiro, and Richard Avedon. She eventually smashed through the model/actress barrier, with a breakout turn in Stanley Kubrick's film Barry Lyndon. While we could go on and on about her accomplishments and career, luckily we don't have to: Marisa has a book out now titled Marisa Berenson: A Life in Pictures (Rizzoli, 2011) which was edited by Steven Meisel. As the title suggests, it's a pictorial retrospective, and much like Marisa herself, stunning and completely fascinating.
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The idea of having a charmed life seems very far-fetched these days, but Marisa Berenson is living proof that it's possible.

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You’ve been both an actress and a model. What do you think about big American magazines putting mostly actresses on the covers instead of models? It went through a stage and I remember a turning point. There was that time after I did Barry Lyndon (1975) my agent said to me, ‘Oh Marisa you’ve got to tone down, you have to go around looking like the girl next door with no makeup on and jeans because that’s what everybody wants now.’ And I thought, 'Oh..no! I’m not that.' The actresses went through that period when they wanted to be taken seriously as individuals and intellectually kind of prove that they were serious--no glamour, no nothing. That got them to a place where no one wanted to photograph them anymore, and they were so NOT glamorous. Then the supermodels came along in the 80s and took over the actresses’ place. They were the stars. All of a sudden all these great-looking, glamorous girls were being photographed like they were actresses. They took over. Then [the actresses] woke up and said, 'Wait a minute. These girls are taking our spotlight.' Now Hollywood has gone back to being ultra glamorous which it should be, because it’s all about dreams, isn’t it? That’s what people want—to dream, to get away from their dreary, sad lives. I think [the actresses] have taken over again because they have more personality than the models.

What do you think about the revival of 70s fashion now? It’ll never be the same, because it’s a whole different world. You can be inspired by the past but you can never copy it.