Icon and Muse Charlotte Rampling Reminisces in the New Documentary The Look
by Lindsay Talbot, November 2011 (United States)
She’s lounged by pools in St.-Tropez for Helmut Newton and fended off the advances of Woody Allen in Stardust Memories (off-screen he declared her to be “the ideal woman”). She’s played the heavy-lidded femme fatale and the elusive muse, and she’s always been an exemplar of effortless, inimitable style. It’s no wonder that directors and photographers have spent the past 40 years under the spell of her cool-to-icy gray-eyed stare and high-bred beauty—but how do you capture the many sides of Charlotte Rampling?
Angelina Maccarone’s fascinating documentary portrait, The Look, which premieres tonight, attempts to answer that question. The director spent the past three-and-a-half years following the iconic actress, catching her in conversation with friends and artists on topics like exposure, age, desire, and beauty. With Peter Lindbergh, she has a laugh about how her decision to appear un-retouched and without makeup in one of his recent portraits was considered a feat of courage that put her on par with Alexander the Great. With Juergen Teller, she rehashes their highly subversive collaborative spring 2004 ad campaign for Marc Jacobs, titled “Louis XV,” leading Rampling to reminisce about her first nude portrait. “Helmut said, ‘Take your clothes off and lie on the table.’ And then it was over within an hour!” she explains with trademark nonchalance over dessert and champagne at the Waverly Inn.
>With Peter Lindbergh, she has a laugh about how her decision to appear un-retouched and without makeup in one of his recent portraits was considered a feat of courage that put her on par with Alexander the Great.
Rampling, who also stars in this month’s Melancholia and The Mill and the Cross, seems unaware of the influence she has on the sartorial world; she’s amused to hear, for example, that Marc Jacobs’s fall collection for Louis Vuitton appeared to be an homage to her character in The Night Porter. “Did Marc Jacobs say that?” Rampling asks. “I know that the film has influenced certain people at different times, you know like, Madonna.” Nowadays, Rampling does still attend the occasional fashion show in Paris, and finds herself drawn to the unfussiness of menswear and the well-tailored suits by Yohji Yamamoto and Jil Sander. “The truth is that I have always liked to dress simply,” she says. “I think any sense of style I have must come from my mum and dad, because they were the two most elegant people I ever knew. My mum would just put on any old thing and look fantastic, and my father was always beautifully dressed.”
Rampling, 65, is currently filming in Milan and learning Italian. She doesn’t rule out the idea of returning to the stage one day or maybe even trying her hand at directing. “I actually like my life to be a bit vague. There are not too many projects that I feel I have to do.” Rampling cringes at the idea of watching her own movies, but she doesn’t mind looking back at old portraits and photographs of herself: “I have boxes of pictures of myself and have many of them framed. I’m always surprised to see that I looked like that.”