After interviewing my three sisters for these BeautyViews, I had to get to the source… and interview my Mom, Dr. Barbara Polla. I have had her answers to my questions red-flagged in my email for over a week, but didn’t read them until this morning. I am not sure what I was afraid of… maybe that her eccentricities would overwhelm my need for order and propriety… Mom is eccentric chaotic, and sometimes I think she lives part of her life in a dream world that only she can see… sometimes I wish I could live there too. She is also the smartest woman I know (intellectually brilliant), the hardest worker I know (and yes, daydreaming is working), the most private person I know (she makes me look like an extrovert). She gave my sisters and I her love of champagne, her love of freedom, her love of all things beautiful. She gave my sisters and me life!
AP: What city were you born in? BP: In Geneva, a sunny Tuesday morning, the day of the market.
AP: What city to do you live in? BP: Essentially in Paris. I love big cities full of ghosts of the past and they are everywhere in Paris!
AP: What is your middle name? BP: Susanna, which was the name of my father’s little sister who died when she was 8 years old. She told her mother, just before dying : I have to go now … I want to live for both me and her, so at least 120 years!
AP: What is your astrological sign? BP: Pisces, with some Leo in there. I find my way swimming in just about any waters and when necessary, I roar!
AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? BP: That I am a daydreamer forever. That I like silence and solitude. And… do they realize how fair-play I am?
AP: What is your most prized possession? BP: Freedom – i.e. something you never possess.
AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? BP: Louis Calaferte, a French writer. I would fall in love with him if I had dinner with him. He is dead but I am sure Alchimie will be able to get him back …
AP: Describe your fashion style in three words maximum. BP:
Kris – Van – Assche. Three words.
AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? BP: No … Time doesn’t exist – does it?
AP: Diamonds or pearls? BP: Pearls. Specifically, a pearl necklace around my waist.
AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? BP: Joy.
AP: What fragrance do you wear? BP: Narciso Rodriguez for her.
AP: Botox or not? BP: Once upon a time …
AP: Hair color: natural or not? BP: I am blond from head to toe.
AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? BP: Eat uncooked stuff : apples, mangoes tomatoes, cheese, salmon, yogurts, kumquats tangerines, oranges, olives, apricot jam, carrots, avocado, salads…; if bread, rye; drink a lot of coffee and Zinfandel at night. And have chocolate every day.
AP: What do you do for exercise? BP: I walk. I walk in Paris. The city is large, beautiful, alive, I walk in it and watch and dream.
AP: What are three things that you always have in your fridge? BP: Perrier, Champagne, lemons.
AP: What is your cocktail of choice? BP: Champagne, Perrier, and a drink called Tonic at the Remor Cafe in Geneva, which contains orange, carrots, ginger and whatever else they have that day. It’s magic.
AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? BP: Work is life!
AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? BP: No idea, I don’t keep track.
AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. BP: Balla Linda by Lucio Battisti. L’été Indien by Joe Dassin. Juda by Lady Gaga.
AP: What book are you reading right now? BP: I am writing my 22nd book… More writing than reading right now.AP: Quote to live by. BP: “We are what we do to change what we are” by Eduardo Galeano and “We are not determined by our circumstances but we create our circumstances every minute of our life” by Jhafis Quintero, an artist who became an artist while in jail and will represent Panama at the Venice Biennale this year.
AP: What is your worst pet peeve? BP: When people are outrageously grumpy and behave as if they deserve to be. When people say “impossible” before considering any possibility. When I have to leave my bags in the coat room of a public space.
AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? BP: On average, I sleep about 6 hours per night; wake up time is 6 hours after sleeping time.AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? BP: Ada Polla, the CEO of Alchimie Forever, and by the way my first daughter. She puts into Alchimie what she is: smartness and softness, efficacy and deliciousness!
AP: Least favorite thing. BP: The most frequent sellers of beauty products are young women and I often feel they don’ get the respect they deserve in particular in retail.
AP: Who is your mentor? BP: In medicine, Professor Alex Müller. He shaped my academic career. In art, the art historian Paul Ardenne. In writing, my beloved friend and writer Ornela Vorpsi. In life, Spinoza.
AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. BP: Decide everything for yourself. Be convinced that you can have it all, but maybe you don’t want it all and that’s fine too. Have fun!