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Liv on Harper's Bazaar
The Real Liv
by Daisy Garnett, Harper's Bazaar, November 2002. Photos by Patrick Demarchelier.

She's confident, in love and has established a style uniquely her own. Today, Liv Tyler knows exactly what she wants.

Four months ago, the day after her 25th birthday, Liv Tyler gave up her 11-year smoking habit. "It was really hard," she says, rolling her eyes and flopping down on the bed. "But I was missing so many beautiful moments, too busy looking for an ashtray. It was definitely my guiltiest pleasure."

We were meant to go out to lunch, but Liv doesn't really care about going out-at all. "I'm happy just lying on the bed if you are, and we can always get room service," she says cheerfully. So here we are, talking about what used to be her worst vice, both of us sprawled on her bed in London's small but perfect Covent Garden Hotel, where Liv is staying with her fiance. Royston Langdon, a musician, whom she has dated for four years.

Though the couple have been here only a few nights (Liv is in London to do postproduction work on The Two Towers, the second installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy). Liv has already made the room her own. The not yet officially released Supergrass album is in the CD player (she's friends with the band), a battered copy of JT LeRoy's book Sarah is lying by the bed (Liv is reading it for the second time; she and LeRoy have a friendship that consists of e-mail correspondence), and the room's various surfaces are cluttered with jewelry and makeup.

Barefoot and wearing a faded green, worn-out T-shirt of Langdon's, jeans by Paper Denim & Cloth, and a necklace with an L pendant - a birthday present from her dad. Steven Tyler - Liv loves clothes, loves accessories, and loves beauty products. "Try this," she says, coming out of the bathroom with a tube of Baume des Familles Réve de Miel, a face and body moisturizer. "I've just discovered it, but already it's a staple." She smears it on.

When I ask Liv what her worst vice is, now that she has stopped smoking, she replies: "Shopping. I'm a whiz at it." Looking around her hotel room. I don’t doubt it.

Strewn about, there is a perfect, to-die-for flat cap and a fabulous leather-and-string shoulder bag. "I love that hat," she says. "It's from Hermes, but I wear it on the beach and in salt water, so it looks like a fisherman's hat from a gazillion years ago." The bag? "Roy gave it to me for my birthday," she says. "He found it in a vintage store. Isn't it the best?" What else? She shows me a new pair of Marc Jacobs ankle boots with gold buttons, a Mayle navy corduroy jacket with puffy sleeves, and two new rings: big white and black camellias by Chanel. And that is not all, "I have the most incredible jewelry collection," she confesses. "Not diamonds or anything, but great dangly earrings and stuff. And an incredible Shoe collection." Though she wears "flats every day," she has dozens of Prada heels and platforms-gifts from Miuccia years ago when Liv's then-boyfriend, Joaquin Phoenix, appeared in Prada ads. "I went to Milan and got to say, 'I want that shoe, but in this color,'" she recalls with delight.

When I ask Liv to define her style, she says simply: "I like to look luscious. When I dress, I think of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, of those women with great lips and long, fluffy hair and layers of beautiful clothing. I want to look sexy, but that doesn't mean I want my breasts hanging out. I like to look pretty, but whatever pretty means to me and my boyfriend; whatever looks best for me. I decide what I want to be like. I modeled for a year when I was 14, and I got in so much trouble because I was like. 'Forget it, I'm not going to wear that!'"

Liv continues, "I appreciate vintage stuff, but I'm not the kind of person who can raid the Salvation Army and then wear someone's stinky old T-shin, I prefer one-stop shopping at somewhere like Fred Segal or Barneys. I can scan a store and pick out what I know will work in a second."

We decide to put this proclamation to the test. After lingering on her bed, drinking tea and eating chocolate biscuits, we want to head out into the streets and shop. Liv is doing this on one of her only free afternoons before she begins recording a song for the soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers. ("I'm so thrilled to be doing it. because before I started acting, all I ever wanted to do was sing," she says.) First, though, she wants to change her outfit.

She puts on a pair of Chloe pants, bought when Stella McCartney was the designer behind the label ("My total staples," she says. "Stella's pants are amazing"), a cotton La Cosa tank, flip-flops she bought on the street in Tokyo, and a black brushed cotton jacket embroidered with flowers. She bought it yesterday at the Cross, a London boutique, along with a red wool throw she plans to wear like a cape. She adds lip gloss and a touch of eyeshadow, keeps her shoulder-length hair loose, and we're off.

Our first stop is the fashionable underwear store Coco de Mer. She scans the place quickly and selects several pairs of flimsy jewel-colored panties. "I never wear G-strings," she says, "but I do love underwear that you can wear '70s-style, low on your hips." She pokes her head out of the dressing room. "Come in," she whispers, giving me a pair of pink silk underpants edged in lace. "You have to try these on, They are stretchy so you can wear them like shorts."

Well, she can. She recently spent a couple of months working out with trainer David Kirsch, and though she's careful about what she eats ("I have to be," she says), she is not a dieter. "I love to cook," she says, "and I love to eat. I could never be a rigid person who only ever has her salad dressing on the side and never eats anything but fish. I realize that is how many actresses live, but I can’t. And yet, if I am not careful, I could be considered chubby in the film business. It does not make my sense. I wear a size eight, maybe a 10. I'm 5'10' size -10 feet and big bones, but that doesn't make me a big girl."

She pauses and sighs. "I don't want to spend so much time obsessing about myself. I want to feel free," she says. "That's why it is great for me not to live in Hollywood. I love to go to the country where I can wear my pajamas all day long if I want." (Liv and Langdon rent a house in upstate New York, in addition to recently having bought a Greenwich Village brownstone.)

This afternoon, however, is not a pajama day. Liv pays for her underwear and we set off for our next stop, Browns, one of London's best designer stores. "I'm looking for these high-waisted Balenciaga pants." Liv tells the shop assistant. "And this Missoni sweater." She shows the woman a couple of pages she has torn out from an issue of Bazaar.

"I don't go to fashion shows, and look books don't really make sense to me," Liv explains. "I'll look at magazines and choose one or two classic things each season." This season, as well as the pants and sweater. Liv has ordered a pair of rust suede knee-high Marc by Marc Jacobs boots and a red wool cape-skirt by Zac Posen, who is a friend.

"I like buying things from people I have a personal relationship with," she says, "like Alexander McQueen and Jane Mayle. She makes things specifically to fit me. A lot of times with designer stuff, I'll think, Wow, that's so beautiful, and then it doesn't fit right, because the designer hasn't considered the shapes of different bodies."

The pants and sweater are not yet in the store, but Liv gives the assistant her phone number and makes her promise to call her the moment they arrive. She has now secured the best items for her winter wardrobe. Even so, she checks out the rest of the store. In about two minutes, she has found a plaid coat by Marni, a striped top by Martin Margiela, and a baby-blue-and-white cashmere scarf and bobble hat by Malo. She tries them all on, right in the middle of the floor. "I hate changing rooms," she says. "When will stores learn not to use overhead lighting? It's depressing." She likes the top, but it doesn't fit right. The coat, though., is perfect, as are the scarf and hat. "Look," she says, putting them on, "a perfect Ali MacGraw Love Story outfit."

At that moment her cell phone rings. It is Langdon. Liv's face lights up. "He's a total angel," she told me earlier about her fiance of a year and a half. "We haven't set a date for the wedding. We're just trying to figure out what will be the most fun thing for us, and at the same time, we're in love and kind of forget to talk about it." They discuss their plans for tonight - they are eating out with friends - before she tells him that she loves him. He calls back and she tells him that she loves him again.

I ask her what it feels like to have found her soul mate, for clearly it's her relationship with Langdon that keeps Liv happy and sane. "I shouldn't really talk about it," she says, but she can't resist "It's so nice to have a best friend who will work through everything with me in my darkest hours and when I'm being embarrassing or selfish or needy. Not that I didn't have that growing up, but it wasn't always easy tor me."

The story of Liv's childhood is now well known. She was raised by her mother, Bebe Buell, as well as her mother's family - and her father (Buell's then-partner, Todd Rundgren), or so she thought. In fact, when Liv was nine or so, she discovered that her biological father was Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. "I was contused, but I wasn't angry," she recalls. "Though the relationships are complicated, ultimately I'm just grateful to have that love."

Liv could wax poetic about her childhood for hours, it seems, but Browns is about to close. Besides, she is eager to return to her hotel room - to the cocoon she has created with Langdon - to prepare for dinner tonight and work tomorrow; to stop shopping and get back to her life. "I'd much rather be a good person than have a good fashion sense," she says as she leaves the store. Then she looks down at her bags and laughs. "But I'm a total hypocrite, because I love to shop, too."


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