'I’ve been a big environmentalist for a long time. While I was growing up on a farm in Oklahoma, I saw family members—my mom especially—protesting things...at one point, they stopped a nuclear power plant from being built in our area. More recently, I noticed that there's a lot of talk about how to clean up the supply chain in the fashion industry for the workers' sake and the environment. So I started researching and finding there were a lot of cool, young brands who are making things the right way. Once I started seeing what was possible, I was like, 'Well, I want to be able to buy stuff like this and I’m sure there are other women who think like I do who would like to buy this way!' That’s what prompted me to launch Master & Muse on yoox.com as an online store for socially responsible fashion brands and transparency in design. I've also been curating the eco section, called Yooxygen, as a part of the effort. Fashion loves creative innovation, it thrives on newness, and so when people see that this is a new path and they’re like, 'Wow! New materials, new opportunities, I can be more efficient, we can save money…' People get excited!
I’ve always loved being creative. And I love fashion, even though when I first started I knew nothing about it. My mom paid for me to learn how to model at a local agency when I was 15, which is how I got scouted. I went to Europe that summer, which is what everyone did back then when they were starting out. I just wanted to get out of Oklahoma! So I went and I got my first job two weeks later in Milan. Once I graduated in '91, I started working full-time immediately.
Shalom [Harlow] and I were living together then, and one day she brought Kate Moss over to the apartment and was like 'I just met this cute little girl, we fell in love on this shoot, we’re friends.' Kate didn’t even have Calvin Klein yet! The three of us would just kind of skulk around everywhere. Then the big girls—Linda, Christy, and Naomi—started being nice to us and showing us the ropes. It was so different—we probably weren’t treated as well as models are now, but I don’t think they have as much fun as we did. [Laughs]
I still have fun modeling. But I’ve been focusing on acting for a while now, too. I was on the show Revenge for a while, and I might be back, because my character can be reignited at any time. My most recent television show, Legends, just wrapped its first season. It’s made by the producer of Homeland and 24—you can’t say no to that! It’s a very different role for me, so that’s exciting.
When I was 18, I told Yannick d’Is I wanted to cut my hair short and he was like, 'No, no, no!' But he didn’t realize how young I was! At the time, I had this bob and it curled under, I looked like a woman! Once he realized, he was like 'You’re right, we have to chop it off.' So one day, we left a shoot, cut my hair off in my bathroom, and the rest is history. I was on the cover of Vogue a few months later.
Now, my hair’s just crazy, I really don’t know what else to tell you. It kind of has a mind of its own and it does its own thing no matter where I go. The best is when I’m on an island and it’s really humid, and it’ll get curly. The Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray gives a lot of cool texture and is kind of dry shampoo-y. I’m kind of obsessed with this new brand, Rahua. I have their shampoo and conditioner and it’s great.
I always had pretty good skin until this period in my late 30s where it got really angry. I think it was a hormone change or something—I just kept getting these really awful bumps, one after another. Finally I saw an Ayurvedic doctor who told me 'You need to cut out this, this, and this,' sort of like a cleanse. The whole process was really tailored—she looks at your eyes and your tongue and she said I had too much fire in my system. I had to cut out all spicy foods. I’m still pretty much on that diet, but I’m not as strict as I should be—I’ll have dairy and drink coffee. But cutting things out cleared my skin up a lot. And the Ayur-Medic line of products is really great. If I have makeup on, I’ll use Ayur-Medic Vacha Cleanser. I scrub with the Anti-Bacterial Wash with Exfoliating Beads once or twice a week. I use 24 Hour Moisturizing Serum and the Clarifying Cream over it.
I’m obsessed with eye creams. Obsessed. For a while, I used the Natura Bisse Diamond Extreme Eye Cream, but recently I switched over to Goldfaden MD Bright Eyes Dark Circle Radiance Concentrate because it’s better for my dark circles, like the name says. I use it day and night. The Talika Eye Therapy Patches are amazing and you can use them more than once. I put them on at night if I’m feeling a little tired or whatever. Vital C Hydrating ACE Serum from Image Skincare is supposed to be good—I don’t know what it does exactly, but it has Vitamin C which I really like for wrinkles. I don’t have any major lines, so I focus on plumping and hydrating—that’s the key for beauty. I’ll go to the Japanese grocery store and pick out any sheet masks that promise moisture. I like the Wei East Face Masks, and I’ll get a pack of 35 masks for 15 bucks. I have no idea what’s inside them, but I enjoy them anyway. My facialist, Vanessa Hernandez, is making a collagen mask and a hyaluronic acid one—those are going to be dope.
I don’t wear tons of makeup, partially because I’m not a makeup artist, so it’s easiest to keep it simple. I know how to do the basics, but I can’t bust out an eye. I stick to earthy tones—golds, browns, maybe a little gray or black. And smudgey. Hard lines only look good on me if I’m doing a photoshoot. I try to get that Peter Lindbergh-y look. Rose Marie Swift has this bad-ass gold shadow called RMS Eye Shine in Solar. I still have some old Stephan Marais ones—he used to have his own line. And the packaging is just perfection.
And I can do a really good brow. Even when I was a kid, I was really focused on doing them. It’s about symmetry more than anything else. I always get a toothbrush from an airplane and keep it as my eyebrow brush. I have the Chanel Au Naturel Palette to fill it in and Vanitymark Ultra Brow Pencil in Milk Choco. Then I use Anastasia Brow Gel. I like to rotate between a couple of different mascaras—I’ll go from a Diorshow to By Terry to the Benefit They’re Real! one. I like my lashes to look lengthened and separated, but clumping can be cute for certain things.
My favorite lipsticks are all Nars, and I alternate between bold reds and something paler. For me, when you wear a pale lip it’s kind of sexy whereas red is more of a bold, strong statement. It’s beautiful but I don’t think it’s soft and sexy. The ones that are more skin-colored are a little more inviting. Belle du Jour is one of my favorites. I also love Manhunt. The Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Sex Machine and Dragon Girl are also standbys.
If I’m just going to be running around, I’ll just do the Clè de Peau Concealer. If I’m going out and I know I might be photographed or I have an audition or something, I use Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation in 4.5 and in 5.5. In the dead of Winter I won’t need to mix them I’ll just use the paler one, but if I’m trying to get a little sun, then I either use just 5.5 or I’ll mix it and use it with the Beauty Blender.
Kjaer Weis is great for cheek and lip tints—it’s all natural and the packaging is just so cool. I do love a little Nars Multiple in Maui for the shine and it’s also not as heavy as a powder blush. I have a bronzer, but I’m not good with that, I don’t know how to use it. It intimidates me.”
—as told to ITG
Amber Valletta photographed by Emily Weiss in Los Angeles.