The legendary actress, model, and muse speaks on global experiences and her beautiful life
Few have lived a life more glamorous than Marisa Berenson. Gene Kelly taught her to dance, Andy Warhol photographed her first wedding, Audrey Hepburn and Greta Garbo attended her family’s Christmas parties in Klosters, and Yves Saint Laurent anointed her “the girl of the 70s.” A Gainsborough beauty born to an aristocratic family, she has dazzled both the fashion and film worlds, appearing on numerous magazine covers and garnering a Golden Globe nomination for her role in Bob Fosse’s Cabaret. And at 68, Berenson remains as captivating as ever—a quality she credits to her holistic lifestyle. Photographed here in a suite at The Carlyle Hotel, she discusses her new skincare line, the trip that changed her life, and the magic of Marrakech.
At Home, Everywhere
I was born in New York, and grew up all over Europe—in Italy, Switzerland, England, where I went to boarding school. My grandmother, the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, had a house in France and we spent a lot of time there too. I move here, move there. It depends on my life, and who’s in it, and where my career is taking me. I go with the flow. At the moment, I’m living in Marrakech, where I’m building a house, and I also have a home in Paris. I had an apartment in New York, but I got rid of it. I prefer to stay in hotels—it’s less of a headache. For years, my friend Diane von Furstenberg had an apartment at The Carlyle, and she’d always let me use it when I came to town.
Oh, the Places I’ve Been
I’ve been on so many incredible trips for work. White Hunter Black Heart with Clint Eastwood was filmed in Zimbabwe in the bush with all these wild animals around. We’d be having lunch and a stampede of elephants would appear. I did another film in Kenya, which is just as magical, called The Life of Hemingway. We had lions and scorpions and every beast imaginable roaming around our tents at night. Stacy Keach’s wife was so terrified she never came out. In those days, they spent fortunes on films. Fashion shoots as well. I went to Jamaica, Istanbul...Iran! I remember one shoot for Vogue, where we were in transparent dresses with long braids and makeup, standing on the roofs of these blue mosques. That would never happen today.
A Higher Journey
I’ve been on a spiritual path all my life. Since I was young, I’ve had this existential feeling. I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing on this planet, and I began to search for answers. I went to India on a photo shoot for Vogue, and ended up on an ashram in Rishikesh with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who was the big teacher of transcendentalism. The Beatles were there, and at night we’d all sit on the ground and George, Ringo, and John would play music. It was an amazing time, and it opened a lot of doors for me. I became a vegetarian and started to meditate—and that’s still the core of my existence. My whole life is about staying healthy, strong, and positive.
The Biggest Beauty Secret of All
Many moons ago I met a holistic doctor in Paris who’s been treating me inside and out. It’s through him that I discovered prickly pear, which is a fruit that grows once a year from a cactus and it produces the most regenerating anti-age elixir available in nature. For years I’ve been working with a French laboratory, making my own oil with it. The man in my life, Jean-Michel Simonian, designs spas for luxury hotels, and there was one in Marrakech that was looking for a new line of skincare. So I developed the Huile Fabuleuse, which was my prickly pear oil, into a full line called Soin Sublime for the hair, body, and face. It’s 100 percent natural and it comes in a luxurious gold packaging that looks beautiful in your bathroom. Neiman Marcus will be selling it later this spring.
A Day in the Life
Every morning I get up and meditate in my garden. Then my dog, Happy—she’s an English mastiff, like a huge lion—comes and has breakfast with me. The birds do too. I’ll swim if it’s warm. I love to swim. It’s the best exercise. When my house is finished it will have a spa with an indoor pool. A vegetable garden, too, because I love to cook healthy, delicious food. I’ve moved my mother in; she’s 95. And my daughter comes down a lot, as do friends. Life is very nice there. The light is beautiful, the people are beautiful, the colors are beautiful, and I’m surrounded by everyone I love.
Makeup Jenny Kanavaros
Hair Nate Rosenkranz
Photo assistant Fred Lam