Elle May 2002
by Deanna Kizis, styled by Isabel Dupré, photographed by Gilles Bensimon
Russian beauty Milla Jovovich is a woman of many talents -- not the least of which is the ability to dress herself, with panache, thank you. Prada's muse takes writer Deanna Kizis shopping in L.A. and talks about modeling, music, and movies.
Actress/mannequin/songwriter Milla Jovovich is in agony. While prowling the Ron Herman boutique at Fred Segal in West Hollywood, she comes across a bluish-gray leather jacket that sets her soul on fire -- except the price tag is not what she expected. "This jacket's awesome, don't you think?" Jovovich asks, fondling the sleeve. "But, like," she says, lowering her voice, "it's eleven hundred and thirty dollars. I mean" -- here she bites her lower lip -- "I don't need it. Although with a little scarf it would look pretty great . . . "
Spoken like a true fashion darling. Models such as Jovovich -- the face of cosmetics giant L'Oréal -- typically get their duds one of two ways. One: for free from designers, as Jovovich does from Miuccia Prada, who considers the twenty-six-year-old a muse. Or two: by digging through bins at the local thrift store. For today's ensemble, Jovovich did both. She's wearing a gray Miu Miu tank, a Prada suede jacket, a scarf found at a flea market, hip-hugger jeans from Tokyo, battered Yves Saint Laurent boots, candy-colored striped socks. To top it off, her shaggy coif is pegged silly with bobby pins. It's an eclectic look that separates Jovovich from the "done" (her word) actresses who often shop here -- Lara Flynn Boyle, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Tara Reid, et cetera -- and many of them would pay good money to copy it. "The difference between models and actresses is that models have great style and actresses don't," Jovovich says, taking a shopping break on the patio outside Fred Segal. "Models have tried on so many different designs. We have an eye, know what we want, and know where to get it for cheap. I might look fashiony, but I did it myself, and this piece" -- she holds up the scarf -- "cost five bucks! Unfortunately, actresses always need stylists."
Jovovich may have a point. We usually only see stars when they're walking down the red carpet after being carefully dressed by professionals (who don't necessarily get it right, by the way). But you'd have to run into an A-lister on her day off to realize when actresses get it wrong. Jovovich's look has a sense of occasion, glamour, and fun. This puts her among a rarefied group of celebs (including Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, and Chloë Sevigny) who have a rep for knowing how to dress. "Milla is the complete antithesis of the clichéd, cheesy bimbo starlet," says Steven Cojocaru, People's West Coast style editor, who is a fashion commentator on Today and Access Hollywood. "There are so many actresses who don't have a speck of style. When I interview them before events, they seem overwhelmed by fashion, like they didn't think projecting an image was part of the job. I guess those girls were thinking of Stanislavsky when they should have been thinking of Marc Jacobs, whereas Milla has the ability to be trendy without getting swallowed by trends. She makes every look her own."
And yet, well, lately Jovovich wants to be known for her acting, not the way she accessorizes. With the exception of ad campaigns and what you see on these pages, she rarely poses for fashion spreads. The ice-blue-eyed beauty has a new movie out -- the sci-fi action pic Resident Evil, in which she hunts mutated zombies alongside Girlfight's Michelle Rodriguez -- and three more films in the can: She'll star in No Good Deed (a thriller with Samuel L. Jackson), You Stupid Man (a romantic comedy with William Baldwin and Denise Richards), and Dummy (an indie in which she plays a Yiddish folk singer). Jovovich says she's eager to "establish herself with good work," then adds, half-kidding, "I haven't had the temptation yet of being offered millions for some piece of crap. Although I'm hoping to experience that someday."
Whether Jovovich will be so lucky is difficult to predict. She is known as a glamorous hyphenate -- in addition to acting and modeling, she's recorded and released two rock albums, The Divine Comedy and The Peopletree Sessions, and plays occasional club gigs in New York and Los Angeles. But although Jovovich's peripatetic career makes her unpredictably interesting, it also makes her less focused than, say, Paltrow. And thus far, her acting hasn't elicited substantial praise.
The daughter of a former actress -- Galina Loginova, who was a well-known film star in the former Soviet Union -- Jovovich was groomed for fame at a young age. Loginova encouraged her only child to act and model after the family (Jovovich's father is a doctor) left the Ukraine for California. The recent émigré caused a stir early on -- at age eleven she was almost booted off the cover of Mademoiselle when the magazine found out she hadn't hit puberty yet. Her mother pushed her to stardom, partly for stardom's sake (Loginova was known to be a prototypical stage mom -- overbearing, protective, but also extremely proud), and partly to put money in the family coffers. "I'm a Russian," Jovovich says. "We're taught that you gotta make sure your family is safe, and what's mine is yours, what's yours is mine." Jovovich appeared in her first two films, Two Moon Junction and Return to the Blue Lagoon, before she turned fifteen. At sixteen, she was cast in Richard Linklater's cult hit Dazed and Confused, but it wasn't until her performance in Luc Besson's 1997 thriller The Fifth Element that Hollywood began to take notice. Jovovich's sixteen-month marriage to Besson, the hyper-stylish French director, led to her would-be star vehicle, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. But critics panned the film, saying Jovovich was miscast at best (and the pair split before the movie hit theaters). Still, the project was hip enough for Jovovich to remain a favorite of the fashion set, her most avid fans. Now, while sipping coffee and discussing Resident Evil, Jovovich once again pushes the style quotient. "I love things that are a little left of center, and Resident Evil isn't commercial at all," she says. "Unlike Tomb Raider, it's based on a cult game the cool kids play."
Jovovich, who is dating Resident Evil director Paul Anderson (not to be confused with Magnolia's Paul Thomas Anderson), has a romantic résumé that spans from her elopement with Dazed and Confused co-star Shawn Andrews at age sixteen (her mother had the marriage annulled) to Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante. Her charms extend beyond the obvious (few women are blessed with legs that go on forever and lips that look as if they could suck a golf ball through a garden hose); she's also a consummate guys' girl. She plays video games, knows how to use the word "dude" for comic effect, and sometimes laughs for so long she goes "heh heh heh heh heh." Anderson is smitten: "Going home with Milla was a great sacrifice that I was willing to make for the movie," he says. "What can I say? She's the most intriguing, beguiling woman I've ever met."
She's also frank about her current state of mind. Jovovich's guitarist and songwriting partner, Anno Birkin, was killed last November in a car crash, and she is still grieving. Not only has she lots a close friend, but the album she and Birkin were working on had become her top priority. "It's been hard," she says. "There was so much magic in him that working together felt like a fairy tale, and his death feels like the bad-magic part of it."
At this point in the conversation, resuming our shopping trip suddenly seems in poor taste. But the actress insists on continuing the interview. "There's a time for everything," she says, standing up to head back inside. "I'm going through this horrible thing, but I want to surround myself with people so I don't have to think about things."
Watching her flip through racks of Chloé, Mayle, and Katayone Adeli, one is struck by how comfortably Jovovich fits into seemingly opposing worlds. She's a glamour puss who's heavily into facials and describes wild-child hotel heiress Paris Hilton as "the sweetest, cutest little bunny." Yet she can be fragile, wry and as thrifty as a babushka. Such contradictions distinguish her fashion sense as well. Her approach is meta -- before making a choice, she considers all options. Which brings us to the question: Is it time to nurse the heart with a little retail therapy and buy that leather jacket? "I can't do it right now," Jovovich says, shaking her head. "Besides," she adds, with an acquisitive glint in her eye that any style maven would recognize, "if I decide I really have to have it, I can always come back."
This month Milla energizes spring fashion with charm and personality. Stylist Isabel Dupré talks about her model approach to dressing.
"Milla wears vintage well and conveys a feminine, demure kind of sexiness that’s not too hard or provocative," says Dupré. Indeed, the entire spread is full of light fabrics and whisper-weight hues, which seem to mirror her personal tastes.
Easy and comfortable, the clothing complemented her warm personality, as well. As the animated poses testify, the pieces chosen allowed for freedom of movement – there’s nothing constricting here. Although carefree in spirit, Dupré notes that the look was still luxurious and rich thanks to special details like feathers, sequins, and beading.
"It’s a spring story with a lot of continuity. Several of the trends shown are really a preview for fall," says Dupré. A chiffon blouse can work when the weather drops - simply pair it with a rough-and-tough leather jacket or nubby sweater. Gold brocade and lamé are an equally wise investment.
Makeup Artist Matin talks about Milla’s subtle, sexy makeup.
Face: "Milla has great skin," says Matin. With a bit of sheer foundation and concealer, her complexion was camera-ready. To give her a natural, luminous glow, he also used a sheer pink blush on the apples of her cheeks.
Eyes: Matin reveals that the season’s popular smoky looks can end up making eyes look smaller. For the shoot, he created an equally sultry look without heavy-handed eyeliner. "Skip the pencil on the inside rim of the eye and beneath the lower lashes – this way the effect is fresh, wide-eyed, and not too overwhelming," says Matin. He applied a black kohl pencil to the top lids and then smudged the line to soften. A gray shadow was used over the pencil. The gray had a touch of lavender in it, which Matin claims worked beautifully with Milla’s chameleon eyes. (The Russian beauty has bluish green eyes that appear to change color depending on makeup and clothing.)
Lashes: "To accentuate the volume of your lashes, hold the brush at the root and wiggle it from left to right. Then, pull the brush through your lashes, but stop before you reach the end,” says Matin. Lashes left bare on the tips soften the look. For lower lashes, he wiped most of the mascara off the brush with a tissue before applying. This technique adds a bit of color without looking too heavy.
Lips: Begin with an exfoliating balm: “It enhances the natural color of the lips and insures a smooth, supple surface,” says Matin. On Milla, he finished by applying a touch of clear pink gloss.
To get Milla’s makeup look, try L’Oréal Air Wear Long-Wear Breathable Foundation in Beige, Cheek to Cheek Blush Duet in Blissful Bronzes, Wear Infinité Eye Shadow Quad in Wood Rose, Pencil Perfect Eyeliner in Espresso, Lash Intensifique Mascara in Black, and Glass Shine Lip Gloss in Raisin Reflection.