Cindy Crawford went on a safari in Africa earlier this year, and reveled in the spectacle of it all: the wild animals, the sweeping landscape, the exotic locales. And, most unusual of all, no Cindy Crawford anywhere in sight.
"There were no mirrors where I was staying, except for this little compact I had," Crawford says. "I couldn't see what my hair looked like, what my clothes looked like. It was so liberating."
You have to go pretty far into the wilds to get away from one of the most famous faces in the world, even when you own that face.
Cindy Crawford has since gotten re-acquainted with her chocolate-eyed, mole-bedecked face. There are some 80 photographs of it in her just-published book, "Cindy Crawford's Basic Face: A Makeup Workbook," which, in her typical taking-care-of-business way, she is promoting with a two-week blitz across the country and the airwaves.
She is like any CEO on a business trip -- she is, after all, president of the so-called Cindy, Inc., a lucrative, multi-million-dollar operation based on her dazzling looks and celebrity -- traveling to check on her properties. Yesterday was spent seducing the Washington and Baltimore markets, a round of appearances that concluded with a book-signing at Bibelot in Pikesville last night.
The day began at 5: 30 a.m., when she woke up and warmed up with an hour- long jog before heading to Planet Hollywood in downtown Washington to meet the press. Crawford is a celebrity investor in the increasingly ubiquitous restaurant -- along with Arnold, the Willises, Sly and the rest -- so why not get its logo in the background even if the main purpose is to sell your book?
She is dressed in a sort of Mistress Cindy, dominatrix of fashion, style: black suede spike-heeled boots, black leather pants, black fitted jacket, black midriff top. Her face, though, is a walking advertisement for her book, which advocates a mostly neutral-colored palette. It's more natural, easier to apply and more forgiving if you're all thumbs when it comes to the brushes, pencils, powder puffs and other tools of the makeup trade.
Truth be told, she could use a little bit more color on this particular day, although she can make dreary beiges, taupes and browns seem quite fetching. Perhaps she was still smarting from David Letterman's blurted-out comment about her eye shadow on his show the night before: She was describing her hospitalization after picking up some kind of bug in Africa, and he asked in faux-naivete if that were the reason for the bruising around her eyes.
"He sent flowers today," she says of the penitent Letterman. "He was just in a bad mood."
Crawford and Sonia Kashuk, a makeup artist and friend who collaborated on the book, said they were bored with the basic look that the supermodel has been sporting for her appearances on "Good Morning America," "Rosie O'Donnell," "Charlie Rose," "Larry King," etc., and decided to do something fashion-y and different. Ergo, the '70s-like flat hair and darkly shadowed eyes that "apparently freaked David out," Crawford says. It's a Gucci thing, Dave just didn't get it.
"I just don't want to have to look like a Cindy doll all the time," Crawford says. "I want to be able to play with makeup."
The thing is, people like seeing Cindy the way they've always seen Cindy -- the big hair, the big curves, the little mole. It's a look that has launched thousands of magazine covers, calendar sales and, yes, fervid fantasies on the Internet. And it's remained constant throughout what is now a more than 10-year run in the spotlight: She let the wan, waif look come and go without her, and the zombie heroin-addict one seems destined to bypass her as well.
The outre may get all the press, but not the multi-millions that Crawford rakes in every year. Her mainstream appeal has garnered her big endorsement deals for Pepsi and Revlon and made her the highest-paid model in the world.
And her book, published by Broadway Books and listed at $25, threatens to add to that wealth: It is an attractive spiral-bound volume with mostly down-to-earth advice and seemingly simple tips. "Make-up 101," she calls it, encouraging more natural, less trendy face painting that can be accomplished in five minutes flat.
Easy to say if you already wake up looking like Cindy Crawford? Even she needs makeup, Crawford insists, when she's not on safari, that is.
"In a city, you can't get away from seeing yourself, your reflection in windows as you walk by," she says. "So then I love a powder and a concealer. Those are the two things I have to have. Oh, and a liner and a lip gloss. And mascara. Those five things. Then I'm ready to face the world."
While she still does magazine covers and modeling gigs -- she has an Isaac Mizrahi campaign coming up -- Cindy, Inc., is quite diversified. She's done two workout videos, recently concluded a six-year run as host of MTV's "House of Style," and starred in a movie, last year's "Fair Game," to mostly negative reviews.
"I don't even care what the reviewers said," she says. "I would have liked for the movie to turn out better. But I enjoyed working with Billy Baldwin, I enjoyed being in Miami. It was the hardest thing I've ever worked on. I was afraid to even do it, so overcoming that and just doing it was a success for me.
"You have so little control in a movie," she adds, "and I've learned that I'm usually happier when I have control."
Indeed, more than most models, she's taken the reins of her business interests. She split from her modeling agency earlier this year, and makes many of her own business decisions.
One particular project, a long-running desire for children, is on hold now that she is divorced from actor Richard Gere. While single motherhood is all the rage among celebrities these days, Crawford says that would be her choice of last resort.
"I'm not at that stage yet," the 30-year-old Crawford says. "Five years down the line though ..."
She remains close to her own family, and plans to take them on an island vacation for her mother's 50th birthday. Lots of R&R;, she says, and margaritas.
Before that, though, she has miles to go and books to sign -- at the Walmart in Mount Prospect, Ill., the Target in Edina, Minn., and, of course, all those Planet Hollywoods.
There's no escaping, of course, Planet Cindy.
"There are always five or six projects circling around me," she says, "like satellites."
Pub Date: 10/23/96