When you become a mother, says Gwyneth Paltrow, that grooming thing goes right out the window. She tells Claudia Croft why Estée Lauder think this is the future.
Gwyneth Paltrow is looking lovely. Her skin glows with good health, and she appears nearer 25 than her actual age, 33. Her post-baby bosom is impressive, but not vulgar, in a frill-fronted Ralph Lauren blouse (that may be because she is pregnant again, but her belly is showing no sign), and her long, lightly tousled golden hair is just right. Not too blonde, not too platinum, it looks utterly natural, but somehow better than nature could ever have intended. A bit like Paltrow herself.
She is one of those enviable natural beauties, like Sienna Miller, Kate Moss or Kirsten Dunst, who, even when they aren’t trying hard, still manage to look better than 99.9% of the population. “On a regular day, I brush my teeth and splash my face with water. I’m very low-maintenance,” Paltrow says, with the confidence of a woman who knows that, when required, she can outshine anyone on the red carpet. For the most part, though, she chooses to keep her beauty on a stun setting, not kill. These days, she rarely does the full Hollywood glamour thing. Fans are more likely to see paparazzi pictures of Gwyneth in her yoga kit with bed-head hair, Gwyneth in muddy wellies and jeans at Glastonbury, Gwyneth unmade-up, wrapped in a scarf and pushing baby Apple in her pram. “I like a realness with beauty,” she insists, and says her regime consists of drinking lots of water, plus “I have a bath with my daughter every night”, regular exercise and exfoliating.
She is not one to party to excess, either. “Before I had Apple, I’d drink more, or have a cigarette at a party, but now I couldn’t think of it. I still love to have a glass of good red wine at dinner, but I don’t drink for fun. I left that behind in my twenties.” It all sounds a little puritanical, but Paltrow doesn’t mourn her slightly more frivolous past. These days, on the rare occasions she does venture out, she prefers low-key affairs.
“The other night, I had to go to a Stella McCartney party,” she says. “Stella was naughty and said, ‘Yeah there’s going to be a couple of photographers there,’ so I arrived and there was a bigger press line than for the premiere of my new movie, Proof. I didn’t have any hair and make-up. I’d just done it myself — some concealer, tinted moisturiser, blusher, mascara and that was it.” Some noted their disappointment that the big star hadn’t glammed up, but Paltrow, with her uncombed hair and barely there make-up, is a different kind of beauty now — one that is earthy and effortless and flies in the face of preening celebrity.
Like many women, Paltrow says motherhood has changed her attitude, forcing her to become more relaxed. “I have a child and she takes up my time. I don’t spend the time I used to when I was single having a massage or a facial. I do things when it’s an emergency: when I look like a man, I have a wax. It makes me feel too guilty to spend time away from her doing something that’s so superficial.”
But when you are an Oscar-winning Hollywood A-lister, folk have expectations of how you should look. The number-one celebrity commandment is “Thou shalt always look camera-ready”, and Paltrow has broken it many times. Recently, she has been described as miserable, scruffy and dowdy. Even friends tick her off. “I can hear Valentino (the designer and Paltrow’s great friend) in my head saying, ‘Don’t look like a bum when you go out — and comb your hair!’ He gets on my case for not looking put-together,” she says. “He would like me to leave the house looking like Ava Gardner.” Even her mother, the actress Blythe Danner, scolds her about her looks. “She’s always yelling, ‘Comb your hair!’ I don’t think she gets the relaxed thing.”
Her mother might disapprove of Paltrow’s casual approach, but one of the world’s biggest beauty companies thinks her look is the future. And it is putting its money where its mouth is. In a multimillion dollar deal, Estée Lauder has just signed Paltrow as its latest spokesmodel. Her first assignment was to replace Liz Hurley as the face of Pleasures, the brand’s bestselling perfume. Paltrow appears in its latest campaign, posing fresh-faced in a beautiful field of pink flowers, frolicking with puppies and generally being at one with nature.
For the television adverts, Paltrow intones in a breathy voice: “Take pleasures in the little things.” It’s certainly not a sentiment you would expect to hear the famously high-maintenance Hurley utter with any conviction. Groomed and paparazzi-ready at all times, Hurley goes to great lengths to avoid looking less than perfect in public — even shutting herself away in Elton John’s mansion for two months until she had lost all 4st of her baby weight. Paltrow, on the other hand, proudly showed off her fuller, new-mum figure in Vivienne Westwood gowns.
“I think there is a sense of approachability about her that is really modern,” says Paltrow’s new boss, Aerin Lauder. The beauty guru believes that in response to an increasingly high-tech, genetically engineered world, her customers are seeking solace in things more artless, earthy and human. “Now, more than ever, it makes sense. People are yearning for more natural elements.”
And Paltrow, with her healthy lifestyle, glowing skin, flowing hair and relaxed attitude, is the ultimate pin-up girl. Lauder has big plans for Paltrow and her natural, approachable and suddenly very marketable brand of beauty — Pleasures won’t be the only product she will advertise. “We have things in the works. She’s very involved. We have meetings and go through colours and certain other things,” Lauder says.
“My pleasures are simple things,” says Paltrow on cue, “like being home with my daughter, being with friends, being in the garden, cooking, travelling and sleeping late.” So welcome to the natural-look, minimal-grooming Gwynnie era, where spending time with your kids is more important than spending time at the beauticians, where you can be beautiful without combing your hair and where hitting the town wearing just a dab of concealer and a slick of lip gloss is perfectly acceptable behaviour. What a relief. Autor: Claudia Croft