by Alessandra Steinherr, UK Cosmopolitan, April 2006
Shock horror - an actress who admits that looking good isn't easy. But Liv Tyler, the face of Givenchy, still makes it seem effortless. She meets Cosmo for a girly chat
As soon as I sit down next to Liv Tyler she coos, "Oh, I love your dress, it's sooo pretty." This is the sort of thing you occasionally hear celebrities say - but nothing takes you by surprise as much as a compliment from one of the world's most beautiful people.
If I wanted to be cynical, I could view it as disingenuous buttering-up to put me off asking any tricky questions. But after a few minutes in the company of this 28-year-old actress and model, I realise such tactics couldn't be further from her mind. She's sweet, but she speaks her mind. She relished 'tricky' questions and, believe me, Liv Tyler is no pushover.
It's not hard to see why the French fashion and beauty house Givenchy chose her as the face of its cosmetics and perfume range to enbody the spirit of its famous inspiration, Audrey Hepburn. It's a hugely flattering gig, something that isn't lost on Liv.
"I love the history of Givenchy and their relationship with Audrey Hepburn - a very glamorous French couture house and Audrey, who was such an amazing presence. But the only connection between me and her was they wanted to hire an American actress to portray some of those qualities. I could never compare myself to her, ever. I could copy her, though!"
If Liv is 'copying her', she is doing an impressive job. Long dark hair frames her famously elfin porcelain features; she's poured into a '40s-style dress, which looks like Roland Mouret but apparently isn't ("Oh, I just picked it up in Barneys in New York"), and wears Marc Jacobs velvet strappy heels ("God, they make me about 8ft tall!" - she's 5ft 10in in bare feet). She looks stunning, embodying Audrey's kookiness as she nibbles a muffin and giggles through the interview. Compliment her on her earrings and she explains, "I borrowed them for my wedding, then Roy [her husband] bought them for me. They're from Fendi - I was like, 'Ah, diamonds!'"
If you think Liv sounds unashamedly girly, that's because she is. When the shoot gets started, she strikes poses with that trick only truly great models or actresses have of visibly lighting up in front of the camera. You get the impression she views modelling, beauty products and all, as a very glamorous game of dress-up.
"I have a LOT of beauty stuff. I don't need as much as I have, but I like to try everything!" she laughs. "I often don't finish pots of creams. It's more about trying them out. Y'know, I've been a beauty junkie for ever and ever. My mum would tell me, 'Don't go in my makeup!" and the second she went out, I'd go in her room and tear through her cosmetics and earrings and boad, and perform around the house. I always had that streak of performance in me."
No surprise really with her heritage. Liv's mum is Bebe Buell, a famous '70s model, while her father is Steven Tyler, the legendary frontman of Aerosmith, who's known a feather boa or two in his time. Until the age of 11, Liv thought her father was another rock star, her mum's boyfriend Todd Rundgren. But Tyler and his other daughter, Mia, would visit and, eventually, the family resemblance became undeniable. "Mia was like my twin; I just knew. When mom told me, I wasn't upset - just excited. It meant I would have two dads, more brothers and sisters, and lots of grandparents."
Liv started modelling at 14 when she moved to New York, now her adopted home. Her pictures appeared in Italian Vogue but, after a year, she gave it up for acting and won her first proper role, in the film Heavy (1995), with her very first audition. Weirdly, she was also cast in a video for Aerosmith's hit record Crazy without anyone knowing the family connection.
This all led to Liv's breakthrough part as the virginal Lucy in Stealing Beauty. Hits like Armageddon, One Night At McCool's and, most famously, The Lord Of The Rings trilogy weren't far behind.
But since The Lord Of The Rings, Liv has pretty much concentrated on her other job, being a mum. In fact, her work with Givenchy is her first since giving birth in December 2004 and she's clearly besotted with baby Milo. She met his dad, musician Royston Langdon of British band Spacehog, in 1998. They married in March 2003.
Much is made in the press of Liv's occasional visits to Royston's family in Leeds - Hollywood babe meets say-it-how-you-see-it Yorkshire family. But she says the families get on well. "The Tylers haven't been to Leeds but the Langdons come over to America a lot and know all my family. It's not such a weird mix. My dad's a rocker but the rest of his family are totally normal. I mean, my dad grew up in the country - he's not always rocking out!"
Despite being a hands-on mum, today Liv's famous peaches-and-cream complexion is nothing short of luminous. Surely (please God!?) she didn't manage to maintain this level of grooming for the whole of the last year?
"God, no! My beauty regime is only just back to normal and, for a few months, it was non-existent. I was lucky if I got to brush my teeth. When you hear that little cry, you throw on the first thing you can find on the floor and run to your baby. You're covered in milk, food, boogers. I'm always finding dried food on my shoulder!" I venture that maybe she's just naturally fresh-looking... "No, it's so much work! Genetically, my mum, dad and grandparents have beautiful skin but they take good care of it too and taught me that from a very young age. I've always cleansed and washed, toned and moisturised, and I do masks regularly - I did one this morning before coming here. I have scrubs. It takes a lot of work to have good skin."
Although she may be strict about her skin, Liv's renowned for being more relaxed about her weight. One of the few actresses who isn't pipe-cleaner thin (she's a size 14), she's said in the past, "I've been told that if I'd lose weight I'd have more work but I refuse to submit myself to those standards. To the rest of the world I'm slim and I like the way I am." But like most of us, she hasn't always been secure about her body.
"I was always so hard on myself; even at my skinniest I hated my body. But now I feel respect for it. Whatever flaws I have now, things that aren't as firm, or stretched, I'm proud of them as they gave me my son." I express my surprise - I'd always believed she was against that kind of body-pressure. Liv shakes her head.
"What I'm trying to say is I don't want to succumb to pressure to be anything I'm not naturally. I'm happy when I feel my best and look the best I can. I don't want to have to change myself. It's important that, as actresses, we're individuals and don't look the same. And, look, if someone wants to have plastic surgery or be really skinny, that's their prerogative. For me, I find people attractive because of what's unique and special about them, not because they look a specific way or are perfect, whatever that means."
Beauty more than skin deep
Liv may be pro 'individuality', but that doesn't stretch to celebrities who lose weight alarmingly quickly after a baby. "It's so hard to lose your baby weight!" she exclaims. "Everybody makes it sound like it just drops off and everyone in magazines is so skinny three weeks later and says, 'Oh, I'm just running around my kid'; it's total bullshit! I don't know one woman who suddenly woke up three weeks later and was a rail.
"Well, I haven't, anyway. I've still got 5lbs to go, but it's taken me 12 months. I didn't want to think about dieting when I was breast-feeding; I was sooo hungry, I was like a wild animal. But also I just wanted to be with my baby, enjoy it, and I was feeding him, so I ate whatever I wanted."
You've got to admire her. But even for down-to-earth Liv, there came a point when she wanted - OK, needed - to get girly again. "Yeah, I did get to a point when I was like, 'OK, I want to wear jeans again', so I started working really hard and lost over a stone in a month and a half. I've been going to the gym twice a day. I have a shake for breakfast, fruit for lunch, shake for dinner and lots of supplements and vitamins. But it's a lot of work."
So the jeans are back. "I really like fashion, I love it, although sometimes I don't love it. I like wearing comfy jeans or black pants, something loose. I'm not into the skinny grey jeans look. I mean, Kate Moss looks amazing, but everyone seems to be wearing skinny jeans, no matter what their size..."
She then adds intriguingly, "I love my high heels but when I walk into a room, everyone looks at me as I'm so tall. I feel really uncomfortable. You know, I feel my best when I can just blend in with evryone."
This is the other side of Liv Tyler, the side that prefers to fade into the background. She's not the most photographed celeb, but what attention she does get, she finds difficult. "I don't go to parties or events but they [paparazzi] hang out outside my house every day and follow me... There's not a lot you can do about that. Except move! I've been thinking about it lately. I've kind of had it."
Having parents in the industry must keep her grounded, though? "I always knew and still try to remember now that you can have great moments and horrible moments; one minute you're hot, then you're not, then you have a comeback. It's all part of it. I try not to get caught up in it."
With that in mind, Liv's now cautiously returning to work on a new film, Coin Locker Babies. "Yeah, it's going to be a whole new experience making a film as a mum. It'll be painful because I won't be able to be with Milo every minute, but I'll have weekends and days off. It will be a challenge, though."
But a challenge she can rise to. "I've always wanted to have children and a family; that's what brings me my happiness. But I love my job as well, so I don't see why I can't have both!" Our time is up and Liv's team ask her what she wants to do next: have lunch, go shopping... "You know I really wanna go up to my room, get under my duvet and watch a movie." Now that's our kind of girl. Independent, cosy, feet firmly on the ground and knows a good rest equals fab-looking skin.
Liv's beauty secrets
What's your input into the new Lip Lip Shine! lipsticks? "Nicolas (Degennes, Givenchy's artistic director for makeup and colours) designs everything, then shows me. Often I'll say, 'I like that, what if it was in this shade?' And he'll make it for me."
Do you have a favourite shade? "Toffee Shine. I wear it every day."
Did you help create Very Irresistible Parfum? "Not personally. Fragrance is a science and they worked on it for a long time. But at our very first meeting, they took out this pink bottle (pink's my favourite colour) and I was like, 'I like the bottle and I like the smell. Good, I can endorse this!'"
Is it true Givenchy named a rose after you? "They did! It's this beautiful pink rose, with an unbelievable smell. I smelt them first in Paris and I thought they'd sprayed them with perfume!"
What's your favourite product? "My new fave thing is Baby Lips. There's a scrub for your lips, then you put on moisturiser and pick a stain. When you put it on, it reacts to the warmth of your lips and makes it more your colour. It's delicious, smells gorgeous and is so kissable. You need to do this before snogging!"
You have amazing skin. What's the secret? "Diet. If I eat lots of fruit and veg and not much meat, my eyes get whiter and my pores shrink. One trick is to eat bigger meals in the day and have fruit or protein shakes for dinner. I always do this if I have a big shoot. I wake up starving, but my skin looks nicer."