By Diedre Johnson
While actress Debi Mazar may be best known for her sassy supporting roles on the big and small screen, behind the very light, clear blue eyes and lip-stick pout is a talented, adventurous woman who can tell you that she’s been there, done that. Just days before the second season of her US TV series, the former Entourage star sat down with www.vogue.it to talk style, fashion, Italian food, her current show, Younger, getting older in Hollywood and the lush home she shares with her husband in Italy.
In addition to acting you are known for your sense of style. What were your early influences?
“There were several. My mother had a Puerto Rican girlfriend named Loretta who was a burlesque dancer. She would come over and wear a black flip in her hair, cat eyeliner, fishnets, really cool shoes and always a leopard jacket and I thought she looked really cool and because she was a dancer, she had really fantastic legs. I’ve always gone for silhouettes.
My mother was stylish until she became a hippie, which was kind of stylish but I didn’t like that style because I was a kid. My grandmother dressed impeccably. She was really into her threads. She was blue collar but she always wore stockings and a good shoe, beautiful costume jewelry and some real jewelry.
My grandmother would babysit me a lot and she and I would watch a lot of film noir. We’d watch Bette Davis movies and a lot of movies from the fifties and sixties on a black and white television. So I would just watch these great films and admire the fabric, admire the cut on the bias (sewing thread line).
Early on I was taken to museums in New York City and I would look at paintings and I was kind of into modernist art, Picasso and my stepfather was a photographer. I grew up in the sixties and the seventies and we had a lot of record collections around the house, lots of vinyl. I would see great stuff from salsa music, the dancers on the covers of records. I was just so influenced by photography, film and pop culture, and also family. When I left home I couldn’t afford to buy fashion so I would go to flea markets and find bargain stores and vintage stores and back in the day it hadn’t all been picked through and I’d find great stuff.”
How many shades of red lipstick do you own?
“I have at least a hundred.”
Have you counted them?
“I don’t count them but I am given a lot of and I buy a lot of lipsticks and I like red; some are matte, some are moisturizing. I don’t go for the matte thing too often. It’s just too old and dry for me. I like a little bit of luster, sometimes a little bit of sparkle. My current favorite red is Iconic Red by Gucci. Pat McGrath designed it. It’s number 390. I like Hour Glass lipsticks and lip treatment with a stain, Armani 400 and Nars Brigette (Audacious Red) I either go red or a pink/nudish color.Often I buy ones that are the wrong shade but I have two daughters that are happy to steal it from me. My 13-year-old wears lipstick.
You’ve always worn vintage but vintage can change, how do you keep it fresh?
“I only wear pieces of vintage. My idea is to never look like I stepped out of a fifties’ film. I wear mostly modern clothes. I have a vintage body; I don’t mean that I am old but I am very curvy. I have a tiny waist, boobs and a butt. Even if I put on the most modern outfit. I kind of come off with a vintage energy because of the shape my lips or because of the shape my body. I collect silver jewelry that goes back to the thirties. I love Frida Kahlo meets Monica Vitti meets Anna Magnani. Italy meets Spain. Latin meets Renaissance. I love history. I love that period in the 15th or 16th century where the skin was clean and fresh and it was just about a little of the lip stick. African-American women have inspired my look throughout the years. They bring it with the hair and the shape and the jewelry. There is a wonderful African English designer, Duro Olowu, that I like.”
Where do you shop?
“I shop at Sybilla in Madrid. I am a client of Isabel Toledo (NYC) She custom-makes things for me. I also shop at The Way We Wore (LA), Lily et cie (LA), Bergdorf Goodman, Spazio A in Firenze, Vaggi, Peruzzi.
What Italian designers influence you now?I wouldn’t say any designer influences me but these are Italian designers I love: Ermano Scervino, Alberta Feretti, Loretta Caponi, Elena Ghisellini, Quercioli&Lucherini, Gucci (current designer Alessandro Michele), Dolce and Gabbana, Max Mara, Superduper Hats!”
Your hubby is Italian (from Italy), since marrying him, how many times have you been to Italy?
“I live in Italy. I am an Italian citizen. I have a home in Fiesole. I’m in Italy generally at least three times a year. I go for business. I go for pleasure. I am there always in the summer, which I won’t be this summer because I am doing Younger. We have about 20,000 olive trees, about 350 acres, wild boars teeming on my property and the grandmother’s are there, the great-grandmother’s there in different homes on the property. It’s really fabulous. In the summer we go to Castroncello on the Tuscan Coast. His father has a little sail boat so we sometimes go to Isola d’Elba (Elba Island). I go often. I am also re-doing my house brick-by-brick because I will live there fulltime. I don’t know if it will five years or less because I have children in school but I would kind of like to go there, tomorrow!”
You two have the Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel, when you guys met, did you sort of go over to his Italian/Mediterrean lifestyle or was it just something organic within you?
“I was always a sort of Italian-file. I was going to Italy practically every year before I met my husband. I just really like going there. I like history. I’d go to Sicily and the Amalfi coast or up north. I’ve also always liked Latin cultures in general. I’ve been to Cuba several times as did my husband. In fact I met him in Florence and we fell in love over Afro-Cuban music.”
How is Under the Tuscan Gun doing?
“Under Tuscan Gun was our blog. Our blog turned into our TV show and our TV show channeled my husband to open a café in Brooklyn which is doing really well. He has pop-up dinners at the café, five courses paired with wonderful wines. The gun is representative of my mother-in-law. She was always pointing her finger [like a gun] and telling me to bring her son home, feed her grandkids good food. I was under the gun to be a Tuscan wife. We’re branding. We’re working on our second cook book with Simon and Schuster. The first was a New York Times bestseller. This one is non-series related and it goes through the seasons in Italy. I’m working on creating lifestyle things for the home, certain thing’s for the kitchen. It’s an outlet. I am a person who always wants to be creative and at my age, it’s not like people are banging down my door. It’s not my age but I had a more lucrative career obviously from 20 to 40. From 40 to 50, actually 36 to 42, it was about motherhood but I had to work through it. I popped those babies out and I was fat as can be and I was stuffed into a Gucci suit size 12 pushing a baby carriage, cursing on Entourage. It was hysterical.
I’ve always needed a creative outlet and I always like a project on the side, Plan B on the side where can I spark my interest to keep me feeling like a creative individual so I don’t get old or bored or bitter. There’s always someone younger, more talented willing to fill your shoes, no matter what career you have.”
Your show, Younger speaks to females in the work place. Do you think ageism is getting better not only in Hollywood but in general?
“I find the whole ageism thing is really sad. Our society doesn’t respect people that are older. When you think other cultures, how they treat the elders with respect; I try to teach my daughters to have that type of respect. I love that line when Anna Magnani said, “Don’t re-touch my lines. I’ve earned them.”
People in our culture feel like their skin has to have no movement, no wrinkles. They have to be gluten free. Yes, if you have celiac’s disease but if you don’t have health issues, carbohydrates are really good for you and having a little bit of weight on your body is sexy.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people getting face lifts or tweaking a little bit because it makes them feel better about themselves. All that stuff is fantastic but there is a self acceptance thing in terms of age where at some point you have to go with it. People of age have experience and vitality and wisdom and you can’t buy that. I find that really sexy.”
Your character, Maggie, is a free spirit, an artist, a lesbian. She doesn’t seem to be sweating the age thing, basically because she does not have to go into an office. How would you characterize her?
“My character is still developing. He has written a character that has this great home. She is a free spirit. She is an artist. The role is not about the fact that she is a lesbian; it’s just her sexual preference. I bet I will bump into a situation where I will have to think about my age or my career. In season 2 I rent out my apartment as an airb&b for a sex party so I am working it to make money on the side. She is crafty.
But what I like is that for once I am not poured into the power suit. It’s just about her being a good ear. This new season coming up is very tricky because there is a lot of web spinning where Liza (Sutton Foster) is living the lie and my character has to get real with her. It’s a little edgier this season and the stakes are different, higher.”
Younger began its second season on US television on January 16th.
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