This weekend at the Southbank Centre, Isabella Rossellini, the actress who made her name as one of the highest-earning modelling powerhouses of the 1980s, will dress as various multi-legged creatures in the name of scientific education. Green Porno, which originally aired in 2008 on The Sundance Chanel, chronicles the dragonfly, the spider, the praying mantis and the snail on their journey to consummating their desires.
“It’s sex, but it’s also science,” explains Rossellini, who is perhaps best known for her role as Dorothy Vallens in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. Daughter of Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, Rossellini was a late starter for the modelling world, beginning her career aged 28 when she was photographed by Bruce Weber for British Vogue. She became the face of Lancôme cosmetics for fourteen years, before being famously dropped on the turn of her fortieth birthday for reportedly being ‘too old’. She starred in Madonna’s controversial 1992 book, Sex, as well as her music video for Erotica.
“I am much more radical than my products represent me to be" — Isabella Rossellini
Rossellini became recognised by her effortlessly chic style, from her pixie cropped hairstyle – which rose at various bouffant angles throughout the 80s – to white shirts, neck-scarves and stripes. She has been connected to a succession of high-profile men, including Martin Scorsese, Jon Wiedemann and David Lynch, who she confesses broke her heart. For much of her formative years, she has lived a reclusive life, avoiding red carpets, interviews and public appearances, very much following in the footsteps of her famous mother. She instead is actively involved in conservation efforts and is a National Ambassador for the US fund for UNICEF, as well as completing a degree at New York University in animal studies. As she said herself, “I am much more radical than my products represent me to be".
Isabella Rossellini: Green Porno is at the Southbank Centre on 9th February.
Text by Mhairi Graham