Sunday, March 2, 2014


Exclusive interview with Joan Collins: 'My timeless beauty secrets and why I won't be defined by age'

By Annabel Rivkin

In an exclusive interview with today’s You magazine, the former Dynasty  star says: ‘I have always worn sun protection, and have kept my face away from harmful rays since I was 20.
‘You should see me when I wake up  in the morning: my face is so white,  it’s like a sheet.

Add some sparkle with a jacket like Joan

You can't really get more fabulous than Joan Collins can you? She is pure Hollywood glamour personified. Her wardrobe consists of pieces from some of the greatest designers from around the world - and we're talking complete one-offs too.
And it seems one thing is perfectly clear - especially from looking at this shoot... Joan LOVES a sequin. Actually, she loves lots and lots of sequins. Take this Donna Karan waterfall jacket as an example.
Fully sequinned in ombre grey tones, this particular piece looks absolutely amazing on Joan. The draped front actually contours the top half of her body, and points to the smallest part of her waist. A clever styling trick.
And for this diva, there's only one way to style this sparkly jacket... with MORE sparkles! Those trousers are the perfect accompaniment to such a fabulous statement piece.
Unfortunately this jacket is now sold out, but there is one very similar below available at And we've found some other alternatives you might like too.
This is definitely a Fashion Finder highlight.

That may explain her second beauty secret: make-up. Indeed she’s such a fan of ‘slap’ that she will launch her own cosmetics range – Joan Collins’ Timeless Beauty – this week.
The five-times-married actress added that it takes her ‘no time at all’ to transform into a glamour queen: ‘Half an hour for a full face with lashes. I shove it on – that’s why it’s called slap.
‘Make-up has come on hugely.  When I was growing up there wasn’t  much make-up and there were no tricks. It was quite harsh, really. What the Hollywood stars relied upon  was fantastic lighting.’
Ms Collins also works out with a personal trainer twice a week and swims every day, yet admits: ‘I’m  a chocoholic – but I believe that moderation is the key.’
She adds that she has never defined her style by her age, saying: ‘I’ll wear a leather skirt – even a bikini – if I want to. Clothes are my passion and I adore them.’

Left, Joan aged 14 with her mother Elsa and little brother Bill; and right, the young starlet in 1951
Left, Joan aged 14 with her mother Elsa and little brother Bill; and right, the young starlet in 1951

One would feel less compelled to talk about Joan Collins’s age if only she looked it. Until recently, the exact figure was shrouded in mystery. We knew that she started her film career in her late teens in the 1950s. We knew that she was in her 40s for those sexy scenes in the 1978 film The Stud. We knew her icily perfect Alexis in Dynasty saw her hitting 50, and that that role began in 1981. And we knew that Percy Gibson, who became Husband Number Five aged 36 at Claridge’s in 2002, was 30-plus years her junior. But it would have been rude to dwell so we left it alone and quietly marvelled. Today she is luminously beautiful in black trousers, a sheer black blouse and furry gilet. She’s a wonder. 'It takes me half an hour for a full face with lashes. I shove it on - that's why it's called slap'
 But one would expect no less from this much-married entrepreneurial authoress. A woman who has survived success and scandal and who has remained, through all of it, human.
Joan released her third and most salacious autobiography yet, Passion For Life, late last year, and she spilled: the men, the sex, all the good stuff. I wonder – after reading about her first husband, Maxwell Reed, who drugged and raped her on their first date and later offered to sell her to an Arab sheik for £10,000; her second husband, the notoriously priapic Anthony Newley; her third husband, the high-powered Ron Kass who lost his job, descended into cocaine and heroin addiction and left her catastrophically in debt, and her fourth, Peter Holm, or ‘the Swede…a mixture of obdurate dullard and calculating sociopath’, whom she caught in their bed with a woman named Passion Flower – if she might be a bad picker.
She’s rather affronted. Clearly today is not the day to suggest that anything might be Joan’s fault. ‘Bad picker?’ she sniffs with transatlantic Hollywood crispness. ‘I don’t think so. The fathers of my three children [Newley and Kass] seemed really good at the time. Ron Kass was running Apple Records when I met him; a very successful American businessman, very get-up-and-go, very ambitious, very talented. And Tony was the toast of London. I mean, he was one of the jeunesse dorée of the 60s and his name was on everybody’s lips. So, you know, I picked them.
I do think the first one [Maxwell Reed] was a mistake, a big mistake, but I was 18 going on 11, so what the hell.’ And the Swede, she says, was ‘menopausal lunacy’.
There was lots of romance (Warren Beatty, Nicky Hilton, Harry Belafonte, Ryan O’Neal, Terence Stamp to name but a few) in between the weddings, but although she may not have been born glamorous (nobody is) she was certainly born beautiful. One biographer talks about a ‘Do Not Kiss’ sign that her mother hung on her pram. That sign might have saved her some time, grief and cash in Hollywood.
‘You know, I was voted the most beautiful girl in England by the Photographers Association when I was 18 and they went to my father and said, “What do you think?” and he said, “I’m amazed! I mean, she’s a nice-looking girl but nothing special.”’ You could have a ball connecting Joan’s later dalliances to her father Joseph’s behaviour while she was growing up.

'The fathers of my three children seemed really good at the time. But the first husband was a big mistake, and the Swede was menopausal lunacy'
Joseph, a South African theatrical agent, was not particularly interested in encouraging Joan and her sister Jackie. He told Joan that she would be ‘washed up’ by the time she was 23. He never joined the family on holiday. Too busy, Joan discovered later, carrying on with showgirls.
He treated his wife Elsa like a slave – ‘watching him hurl a plate of fish and peas across the dining room on to one of Mummy’s precious Knole sofas was one of my most harrowing childhood memories’ – but was nonetheless traumatised when Elsa died of cancer in 1962.
Despite Joan’s many autobiographies, her mother still feels a bit sketchy. Perhaps, because women at that time were expected to be devoted, unquestioning wives, some dulled themselves down and simplified themselves within their domestic environment. But Elsa has to have been reasonably ballsy – she was a champion ballroom dancer [Joan can still, with a little limbering up, do the splits] before she married and gave up her career.
‘She was a saint,’ says Joan. ‘She was very funny and charming and everybody who knew her loved her. She insisted that we took all our vitamins during the war – because food was rationed and we had to take cod liver oil and all sorts of supplements that no one knew about – and that was intelligent thinking because she knew we weren’t getting the nourishment we needed. She was very into no sweets and eating your greens and she started me on skincare when I was 13.’

'When I was voted the most beautiful girl in England, my father said, "I'm amazed! She's a nice-looking girl but nothing special"'
Joan never saw Elsa ‘without her lipstick. She used Pond’s Cold Cream and Coty face powder and Revlon Fire and Ice lipstick. She had this mascara that was in a little black patent box that she used to spit in and rub a brush in. And then she had an eyebrow pencil because she had over-plucked in the 1920s. She loved her make-up.’
And we all learn this stuff at our mother’s knee – Joan has always declared that make-up is good for the skin, that it protects and nurtures. None of that ‘let your skin breathe’ spiel for her. ‘I’m often amazed,’ she wrote in 2011’s The World According To Joan, ‘when some lined, red-faced, blotchy-skinned woman proudly announces to me that she’s never allowed an ounce of make-up to touch her face. Well, bully for you, ma’am, if you want to go to the grave looking like Dracula’s grandma.’
So, finally, this magnificent ambassador for cosmetics, this shining light of lipstick, powder and paint, who, I might add, has been doing her own face since she was 21 (she always applied her own make-up for Dynasty; just Google it to remind yourself how beautifully) is launching her own cosmetics line, Joan Collins: Timeless Beauty, backed by George Hammer, the forward-thinking beauty mogul, behind Harrod's, Urban Retreat..
‘Why aren’t you wearing any make-up?’ she asks me. Earlier I applied tinted moisturiser, bronzer, blusher, eyeshadow and mascara for this encounter, but to Joan Collins’s gimlet eye, this is just sloppy. She believes in a full face.
‘I have a goddaughter who’s 25 and she has a sister who’s 27, and I went to stay with them last weekend and they both wore a full face of make-up and they looked amazing. ‘Most girls of their generation do not know how to put on make-up and just go into department stores and get confused, but they said they had read my book My Secrets. Look how beautiful they are.’
She hands me her iPhone and there are two polished young beauties sitting on a club fender. ‘Theo Fennell’s daughters. One is called Coco [the other is Emerald] and she is my goddaughter, one of my goddaughters, along with Cara Delevingne…’ I love how she slips that in.
Tom Ford rocked up to her most recent book launch along with Valentino and Mario Testino. This lady has muscle. Her newest friend is Tracey Emin and she says that ‘Kate Moss and I hit it off’. She is nothing if not au courant. But then again, she remembers how things were…

'I often wear wigs - they save time, not to mention my own hair'
‘Make-up has come on hugely,’ she says. ‘I remember when I was growing up there wasn’t much make-up and there were no tricks. It was quite harsh, really. What the Hollywood stars relied on was fantastic lighting. I mean, I met Marlene Dietrich once, very briefly, when she was at the Café de Paris and I was about 18, and she was not that beautiful or tall or impressive. But her lighting in all her movies! If you see The Scarlet Empress or Shanghai Express, well, she made me look dowdy in comparison.’
Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, the legendary make-up artist who created Marilyn Monroe’s doe-eyed pouty look, taught Joan how to put on her face. Until then it had been, ‘Panstick, loads and loads of powder – you could use baby powder – lipstick and thick black eyebrows because we all wanted to look like Elizabeth Taylor.’ Initially Joan was marketed as the English Elizabeth Taylor but actually I think she’s prettier. ‘Well, I am now because she’s dead,’ retorts Miss Collins. Quite so.
‘You have to blot down your foundation as much as possible so it’s not too thick,’ she continues, and her complexion is so immaculate that it almost looks sandblasted. She hasn’t allowed the sun on her face for 60 years. ‘You should see me when I wake up in the morning; my face is so white, it’s like a sheet.’
She talks about splashing your face with cold water to close the pores before you put on make-up and, when the face is finished, spraying it with water to fix it. ‘Because on Dynasty I would apply the make-up at 7am and it would still have to look perfect at 7pm. It takes me no time at all. Half an hour for a full face with lashes. I shove it on – that’s why it’s called slap.’
People always comment on her lips. Perfectly heart-shaped and bright and gleaming – today she is wearing Lady Joan from her own range. But the eyes are compelling. Ruthlessly lined and contoured in a way that blends Hollywood glamour with contemporary catwalk daring.
‘The liner? Oh, it’s a liquid, then a very sharp pencil and then I might put liquid on again to make sure it has taken. And I’m wearing lashes. But that’s for the shoot today. Normally I just use a pencil and some shadow. And my off-duty face, if I’m just at home, is no base at all but every time I go to the loo or wash my hands I slap on moisturiser [from her Contra Time range], so I might put it on seven or eight times a day. I’ve got it next to every basin. My skin is very rarely without something to protect it. And then I might wear a bit of lipstick.’ Just like Mum.
Percy, to whom she has been married for 12 years, says that some days her sexiness hits him like a freight train, and certainly, beyond the kittenish allure lurks a relentless energy. Why would she stop with the books and the sparkle and the one-woman shows and business enterprises?
She also has homes to maintain in London, New York, Los Angeles and St Tropez. She is very much the matriarch, always there for her three children and three grandchildren. So I hope that her admirable new cosmetics line – which will be launched on QVC UK and which has Joan’s commitment to accessible glamour at its heart – proves another huge success for the fabulous, unstoppable and inspirational Joan Collins.   
Urban Retreat at HarrodsJoan Collins Timeless Beauty launches on Tuesday and comprises three elements: CONTRA TIME skincare, designed to shield sensitive complexions and delay the signs of ageing (prices start at £25); make-up, which also looks after the skin (from £12 for lip and eye pencils), and I Am Woman perfume (from £35 for the fragrance essence). The range will be available at Urban Retreat Harrods ( and QVC UK ( – and Joan will be showcasing the products herself on the channel at 2pm and 10pm on Tuesday and 1pm and 7pm on Wednesday.
  • I won’t be defined by age; I’ll wear a leather skirt – even a bikini – if I want to. Clothes are my passion and I adore them. Some people today consider style, elegance and being well dressed and groomed as a frivolous waste of time, but not me.
  • Sadly, the average dress designer does not have the older woman in mind when creating collections. I’ve always dressed to accentuate my assets. Whatever you buy, think ‘flattering’ not ‘fashion’.
  • Invest in a three-way mirror, then look at yourself ruthlessly. You may be overweight but have wonderful skin, so wear clothes that enhance this asset. If you have beautiful hands, rings, bracelets and bright nail colours will draw the eye. If you have a big bottom, don’t wear Lycra!
  • I’ve made no secret of the fact that I often wear wigs – I find they save time, not to mention my own hair. There’s nothing worse than hair which is over-treated and heat damaged. I have fine locks, so I take omega oils and vitamin E to encourage thickness and growth.
  • Eat junk food and you will look like junk! Eating avocados, salmon, nuts and fresh vegetables really does help your complexion.
  • As for your body, use it or lose it! So many people ask me, ‘How do you do it?’ I believe firmly in portion control as well as exercise. When I’m in London, I have a personal trainer – or should that be personal tyrant? – who comes twice a week. In the summer I swim every day and I am always on the move. I don’t deny myself anything – I’m a chocoholic – but I believe that moderation is key.
  • I’ve always worn sun protection, and have kept my face away from harmful rays since I was 20.
  • I don’t buy into the nude, no make-up trend. I favour a smoky eye, and if I’m going out in the evening, I’ll add some false lashes and keep my powder compact handy to combat shine. Lipstick and gloss complete the look.
  • I’m fortunate to have inherited my mother’s legs. She was a dancer. There is nothing more elegant in winter than dark tights worn with matching knee-length boots and a trench coat.

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