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Livin' It

by Iris Vandemoortele, Dutch ELLE, May 2010. Photographs by Alique. Scans by Yavanna, Translation by Samara

Liv Tyler is back on the scene. ELLE talks to her in New York, About her love to the city, The difference with LA, The fashion-sins from her teenage years - and her son's preference for Dior.

On an icy morning during New York Fashion Week, team ELLE is waiting for Liv tyler inside a massive studio. We are about to do a photo shoot with her, which should be no problem at all for Liv; she's been doing photo shoots and fashion shows since she was fourteen. But, of course Liv Tyler has become much more than a model alone. Unlike the majority of models-turned-actressess, she has become a star to be reckoned with and is mostly known for her parts in movies. Despite her celebrity status, Liv turns out the be pretty low key as she arrives. No huge entourage or pack of chihuahuas for her, nor is she wearing an outfit that says wealth and fame.

Liv arrives, accompanied by her agent, wearing a large parka, black skinny jeans and All Star sneakers. The weather doesn't bother her in the slightest:
'I'm like an Eskimo, I love the cold and the snow! I grew up with it in New York.' There's not a trace of make up to be found on her face. And why would you doll yourself up, when you have such a beautiful porcelain skin and look easily seven years younger than you are (Liv is 32). Liv is rocking a casual look today, which agrees well with the clothes picked out for the shoot: jeans. At the moment, Liv is the face of G-Star and denim is very much up her alley, she tells us from her chair at the make-up artist. 'We just finished the fitting for the next G-Star campaign and I thought everything looked great. I am obsessed with the double denim look. It's very strange, I had dreamed about it and at the fitting I got to wear a very cool denim shirt with a pair of baggy jeans – exactly what I wanted.' The photos for G-Star were taken by Anton Corbijn. His billboards and Liv's face are currently all over New York and in a couple of weeks, the next shoot will take place in Miami. This wasn't the first time she had worked with him: 'I did a shoot with him once in Germany, when I was about sixteen. He's a genius. His pictures have a movie-like quality, there is so much power in one image. It was great to work with him again, also because he cares more about personality and attitude than he cares about perfection.'


WALKABOUT

The fact that Liv has a lot of experience and esteem, proves itself during this shoot. Opposed to the average seventeen year old model, she doesn't just arrange herself in any pose. She knows what she wants and what she doesn't want. However, she does enjoy posing. 'I have always loved dressing up and changing my hair and makeup. It's great that you get to play a entirely different character at a fashion shoot. For a movie, I have to do that for months sometimes and that takes a lot out of me, but for a couple of hours it's mostly just fun.'

The last movie she worked on was Super, in which she played a wife who cheats with a drug dealing Kevin Bacon – which forces her husband to transform into a superhero. Filming just finished and in a couple of weeks she will begin shooting for The Ledge, a thriller with Terrence Howard and Charlie Hunnam. With the latter, a British actor who became known for his role in the show Queer as Folk, but got few major parts after that, she was spotted out on a movie date a couple of weeks ago. After Liv divorced from the British musician Royston Langdon in 2008, she's had a relationship with her personal trainer and rumors about affaires with Edward Norton and Zach Braff were laughed off. About whether or not she does more with Charlie Hunnam than just going to the movies, we cannot ask her. Her agent requested us not to ask about boyfriends or her father (rock god Steven Tyler from Aerosmith). And there are more things like that, that make it clear that we are dealing with a star here: the hairdresser Liv asked for, earns two very reasonable monthly salaries a day, and for lunch, she wants brown rice with steamed vegetables – of which she barely eats; she occasionally scrounges a mini hotdog from the table. And smokes a cigarette. On the other hand, Liv has had difficulty adjusting to live in celebrity reserve Los Angeles, where she's been living for the past two years. She moved there because she wanted to leave New York and her house full of memories after the divorce. But she remains in love with her birthplace and still owns her house in the West Village.
'My heart is here. I'm simply on a little walkabout, is that how you call it? Just like the Aboriginals who sometimes leave their home for a while. I was a little prejudiced when I moved to LA, just because it's a world I'm not used to. But below the surface you can always find interesting things. In New York you can just go onto the streets and experience things all day long. In LA you don't just run into something, you do everything by car there. But you meet with friends or go off on adventure, out of town. I'm able to appreciate both life styles.'


WORLD OF FASHION

Another big difference between New York and Los Angeles is the way of dressing. LA is the city of sweatpants and flip-flops, New York is the city of fashion – from the hipsters in Brooklyn to the Michael Kors-wearing ladies from the upper East Side. And New York is the city of fashion week. The day after the shoot and the interview, Liv will be sitting front row at G-Star's show, accompanied by Agyness Deyn, John Legend, Peaches Geldof, Mena Suvari and whole bunch of other celebrities. 'I haven't been to fashion week in a few years so I am very excited. It's weird, ever since I was a little girl I have been walking around in the world of fashion, but in my daily life I don't have much contact with it now. I'm always very inspired by fashion, by the creative energy that goes into it and the influence it has on how people see the world. I'm always curious about what's going on.'

It can't be hard for Liv to stay up to date with fashion with friends like Stella McCartney and Kate Moss. She regularly hangs on the couch with Stella and a bottle of wine, gossiping about who's sleeping with whom, and at Kate's she has dressing up parties. When it comes to her own wardrobe, Liv also goes to stylists for advice. In an episode of The Rachel Zoe Project can be seen how the skinny stylist shows Liv to a room full of clothes that she bought for her. And her son Milo of five years old (who she had with ex-husband Royston Langdon) is also allowed to share his advice:
'The other day I had a business diner and I asked him to pick out two outfits for me. He picked one out for me, with shoes and everything. It was astonishing, because he was completely right. He really has a sense of style.' Sometimes she doesn't feel the urge to be on top of the latest fashion trend. 'You get so influenced by all the clothes and styles around you, that there came a moment when I thought: I want to know who I am without the exterior influences. How do I dress when I can pick out an outfit without anyone telling me that it's cool or not? It's interesting to take a small break and see an authentic side of yourself. I did discover good things, but now I'm back in the plain reading Vogue.'


INTO THE CLOSET

So Liv stays in touch with fashion by reading Vogue and spending time with famous friends, fashion and style have been part of her life since she was an infant – even though they were sometimes of an eccentric nature. Not only her father Steven Tyler was known for his extravagant wardrobe, her mother Bebe Buell wasn't exactly the minimalistic type either. Not only was she a well known rock groupie, but she was also a model – and not just for Playboy, in which she graced the November centerfold in 1974. Liv has some great memories about her filled closets. 'When my mother went out, she always said to me: "Please, don't touch my makeup and clothes." A second after she closed the door behind her, I ran to her closet and put everything on. I loved it. A while ago I talked to her about what I remembered the most: hundreds of earrings hanging on little hooks in the bathroom. They were beautiful earrings, with little skeletons and feathers. She gave them away, such a pity.'

Out of Liv's own outfits, she remembers the ones from her teenage years the best: 'I was a metalhead, crazy about music from The Ramones and Mötley Crüe. So I wore skinny jeans with leopard prints and zippers on the side with huge basketball shoes. But the worst thing was: I had a perm. And my biggest hobby was hanging around at the rollerdisco.'

Just like Liv, her son Milo has developed an interest for his mother's closets. 'You know what's so funny? Yesterday he ran in when I was dressing and grabbed a pair of Dior heels from the closet. He put them on and took three steps in them. He had never done anything like that! So sweet.' But despite the Diors and his role as style adviser, Milo doesn't get to see his mother in makeup and glamorous dresses that often. Fashion week, fashion shoots, filmsets – Liv thinks they're all fantastic, but she likes being with her son better. 'I don't go out much, I love being at home. My favorite moments are Milo's bath- and bedtime and reading him stories. I don't want to miss that. Milo sees me mostly in my pyjamas.'


Original scans in Dutch (click to enralge):