Bella Donna: Isabella Rossellini


Born in 1952 to the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman and Italian director Roberto Rossellini, it seems only natural for Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanna Rossellini to be equally legendary herself. She arrived in New York at the age of 19 holding a variety of jobs from translator to television reporter before her first movie role in 1976, alongside her mother in A Matter of Time. Finding some success and enjoyment in acting, she had her first big-screen starring role in The Meadow a few years later.

Of the many hats worn by Isabella, though, it was modeling that gave her the most recognition. First appearing at age 28 in British Vogue, it was two years later that she became the first model to sign an exclusive contract with Lancome in 1982, a role which reportedly earned her more than $2 million to date. (Her daughter Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann is also a Lancome model.)

Learn more about her role – and her dismissal – when you read more.

Serving as an spokesperson and official face of the cosmetics company, Isabella was associated with the fragrance, makeup, and skin care line before until her infamous "firing" in 1996 for being "too old" to continue in her role. She was only 40. She later said:

What hurt me was that after fourteen years, with the marketing research so positive and the company selling so much, I thought that the cosmetics industry finally had the opportunity to break this taboo about women in their forties not being beautiful, that narrow idea of beauty.

It's hard not to see her point there and, sadly while things are somewhat better some 10 years later, there are still big improvements that can be made. Kudos to this Bella Donna for her intellect and her beauty.

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