Avon’s Lady: Eighties Cover Girl Paulina Porizkova Sounds Off
Czech stunner Paulina Porizkova is used to making headlines. The Sports Illustrated cover star and supermodel garnered her fair share of attention as an editorial fixture and runway queen in the eighties—not to mention landing a starring role in the video for the Cars hit “Drive” and then later wedding the band’s former front man, Ric Ocasek. But these days, Porizkova is more likely to send tongues wagging about her abrupt dismissal from America’s Next Top Model in 2008 and her candid comments about fading beauty in the wake of the supermodel era. “Nothing ages as poorly as a beautiful woman’s ego,” she recently told the New York Post before lamenting her peers’ need and desire for plastic surgery. “I don’t have anything in my face,” Porizkova insisted last night at the 20th anniversary of Avon Anew, for which she serves spokesperson duty, scrunching her skin in every which way to illustrate its impressive, Botox-free mobility. She may have sworn off injectables, but the 46-year-old has some other secrets for preserving eternal youth. Here, Porizkova talks skincare regimens and the good old days while offering up some advice for navigating the modeling industry almost 30 years after the original supermodels hung up their stilettos.—Celia Ellenberg
Avon is fêting the nineties this year, when its original Anew Perfecting Complex first hit shelves and introduced the mass beauty world to alpha-hydroxy acids. What do you remember from those days—or what are you trying to forget?
It was grunge, flannel shirts, and a very plain, Calvin Klein thing with girls with no makeup on who looked like they did too many drugs. That’s the nineties for me. It wasn’t the best fashion period. Actually, in retrospect, it really sucked. I’m glad I wasn’t a model in the nineties! I do want all of those high-waisted jeans back. I think they’re overall more flattering for women who have a stomach—they hold you in! It’s more flattering for a woman in general. I’m really sick of hipster jeans.
I’ve gotta ask, because I’m a big Cars fan: How did you score your starring role in the video for “Drive?”
It was a total accident. I had actually never heard of the Cars because I was from Europe. There was a booker at my agency who said, “Oh, the Cars are doing a casting for their video. They’re my favorite band—you have to go and audition!” I was like, “Whatever, I’ll pass,” because I didn’t like her taste in music. But then she told me that Timothy Hutton was directing it—and I had heard of Timothy Hutton. This was right after Ordinary People and I was like, “Ooh—I want to be a famous person!” So I went to audition and I was obviously the best one.
My husband went through the auditions and he basically picked his wife—like a Russian mail order bride!
You’ve been very outspoken about aging, going as far as to say that “once you’re over 40, you become invisible,” but you look amazing. What’s your secret?
I’m a total makeup and product whore—big time. You should see my sink—it’s pathetic. I’ve tried everything and a combination of ten things…I just love products because I’m always under the impression that they will work. I’m a believer. Honestly, when [Avon] asked me if I would do commercials for its [Genics Treatment Cream], I said, send me the cream first so I can try it out. And that’s not something most models would do. But I’m not most models! I’ve been on it ever since. I’ve been using it for over a year now as well as the Clarisonic brush. It’s an awesome combination. I highly recommend it.
What about makeup? Are you as dedicated to foundations and primers?
Here’s the deal with makeup. I love it—I would sell it if I could.
You could be an Avon lady!
Yes! I would have to have them let me make my own makeup, though, because I have all these ideas. But the older you get, the less you can use—you look better the less you put on. That doesn’t mean the older you get you shouldn’t wear makeup, of course. Lashes for me are always important. I really like Diorshow—it works really well. And then you always want nice skin. I like foundations but they have to be super-light and light-diffusing.
You’ve been primped by some industry legends. Do you have any tips that you’ve managed to glean while sitting in the makeup artist’s chair?
In the eighties, there was a guy name Wayne Bandy. He was one of the best superstar makeup artists of the era. He used to take a teaspoon and heat it over a lighter—because we all smoked then—and then he would put it up against the lashes to curl them.
Do you still do that?
Not very much because I’m a fucking klutz and I’d probably poke my eye out and fry it at the same time. He also used to do another thing that I do all the time. He used to use a graphite pencil—an actual pencil that you draw with—to fill in your brows. For people whose brows are really dark, it’s easier to find pencils, but for me, if you put on something that’s too brown you can see that it’s too reddish and it looks ugly. But the ash of the graphite pencil looks really good for blondes and light brunettes.
Looking at the modeling business at this stage in the game, what are your thoughts on how it has evolved over the years?
Whenever I really look at it, I think: I am so grateful that I got to be a supermodel when I did because it seemed like it was so much more fun then. I was incredibly lucky. My years of modeling, and then Cindy after me and then the “holy trio”…
That’s Naomi, Linda…
…and Christy. We kind of absorbed the best part of it. The girls today are just left with…the leftovers. All the campaigns, all the covers are going to actors because with the advent of Photoshop you can make my grandmother look like a 20-year-old! So why would you pay gazillions to a girl when you can just get Scarlett Johansson—she’ll sell better. In the old days you couldn’t do it because retouching cost a fortune. You actually had to look the way you looked. You couldn’t alter your entire face. If you look at prints from the 1980′s, its freaky how imperfect we are. There are chubby legs, fat knees, pimples. But we looked human.
Do you have any advice for models hoping to make a name for themselves in the industry today?
Acquire a good sense of humor. If you have one, you’ll survive better.
Photo: Brian Ach/Getty Images for Avon