Interview by Stephanie Arouesty
Photography by Sam Marie-Saint
Helena Christensen. Supermodel, photographer, philanthropist, mother, Nylon magazine co-founder and creator of the brand Staerk & Christensen… this is how Google describes her.
Yves Saint Laurent Beauty X L’Beauté
Supermodel: Helena Christensen
Photography: Sam Marie-Saint
Makeup: Olivia Barad for Streeters Agency
Hair: Mike Martinez for Cutler Salon / Assistant: Patrick De la Cruz
Styling: Victoria Bartlett / Assistant: Danielle Wellington
Nails: Nori for See Management
Prop Styling: Milena Gorum with Beholder
Video: Alfonso Victoria / Editing: Laura Mazón
Casting Direction: Gabrielle Seo
Editor-in-chief: Stephanie Arouesty
Production: Mirham Ascencio for Lower E Side / Assistant: Janelle Fishman
Coordination: Alexis López
Location: Ideal Glass Studios, New York
“The most beautiful body in the world”
“Nobody has better legs”
“She wears the clothes with life and fire”
Yes, we’re talking about Helena Christensen, one of the legendary “Magnificent Seven” that, along with Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Elle Macpherson, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista, gave life to a new era of supermodels. These women were all the rage around the world, they took over all the runways, ad campaigns, magazine covers, interviews and billboards ––all without social media––… and have been immortalized throughout time, no matter whoever might be on top at the moment.
Helena was born in Copenhagen on December 25th, 1968. When she was just 17 years old, she was crowned Miss Universe Denmark and by next year she had moved to Paris to start her career as a model. Fashion’s ‘Kaiser’, Karl Lagerfeld, immediately gave her her first campaign, and the entire world was then captivated by her beauty. In 1990 she starred in the Wicked Game music video, which is ranked by MTV as one of the Sexiest Videos of All Time.
She’s an actress too, and speaks five different languages fluently; meanwhile, as a photographer, she’s captured huge personalities by the likes of Natalia Vodianova, The Weeknd, Naomi Campbell and Gigi Hadid, for some of the most important magazines. She’s also on a constant mission of creating awareness on climate change and raising funds to fight breast cancer. Her son Mingus Lucien Reedus is 21 years old and is also a model; and her close friends list includes Julianne Moore, Liv Tyler and Brooke Shields, to name a few. She’s a big fan of The Smiths and R.E.M., and is friends with The Dutch and U2’s Bono, she’s left-handed and also appeared in a Durán Durán video.
It was 10:00 a.m. and were arriving to the Ideal Glass Studios in The Village. We were getting everything ready: makeup was exclusively YSL Beauty, hair tools, pieces from this season’s most important collections, couches, props, the works… even though Christensen’s call wasn’t until 11:00, she showed up twenty minutes early rocking a perfect haircut that included her fantastic bangs, no makeup on ––incredible skin, of course–– wearing a pair of straight jeans, a white t-shirt and a smile to greet the entire crew ––the largest one we’ve had for any shoot yet––.
“Helena, we’re thrilled to have you on our FW21 cover, thank you so much”, I said in English. “Gracias a ti, querida, por haberme invitado”, she thanked me back in perfect Spanish. “You speak Spanish!”, I said. “Of course, my mom is from Peru, and my son Lucien speaks it too”, she continued on (in Spanish).
It was time to begin shooting and as soon as she stood in front of the camera, I understood everything as to why she was one of the most iconic models in fashion and beauty history. Her way of moving, posing, seducing the camera, was something I had never seen in my 16 years in the industry. It was as if her beauty had been enhanced the second she found herself in the lens of renowned photographer Sam Marie-Saint.
Every look in this story was constructed to fit the makeup we wanted to create using Yves Saint Laurent Beauty’s most outstanding new releases on their Fall/Winter collection. The most perfect lines were created with the Laurent Dessin Du Regard Eyeliner, stunning red lips were done with Lip Gloss Vernis Á Lèvres Vinyl Cream in Rouge Remix, smoky eyes using the new palette Couture Clutch Eyeshadow Palette Paris and a pristine skin was achieved with the new Touche Éclat Le Teint base and the best-selling highlighter Touche Éclat. The face was also prepared with the Pure Shots treatment trilogy from the French maison.
After six hours, we were done with the photoshoot and I was able to sit down for coffee with Helena, and this is what she said…
LB: Who did you admire back in your first days in the industry, and who do you admire now?
HC: I didn’t know much about the business of fashion back when I started, I was into Frida Kahlo’s style, Jean Seberg’s and all the women in Gustav Klimt’s paintings. Schiele’s paintings are, in a way, a mixture of all of them, and it’s definitely still my favorite style.
L’Beauté: Who would you say is Helena Christensen?
Helena Christensen: a very Danish woman, very Peruvian, who loves nature, who’s a compulsive eater and obsessed with water.
LB: You are a part of the first generation of ‘Supermodels’ in fashion history, what does this term mean to you?
HC: It didn’t really mean much when it all began. I only worked hard and didn’t think about that. I now realize the huge gift that it was, having been part of a unique group of girls that grew up to become extraordinary women.
LB: What do you consider to be the most powerful decade when it comes to fashion and beauty?
HC: The 20’s and 50’s. I simply love the style of clothes, hair and makeup from these eras. Now, they’re everywhere.
LB: What was your first big job?
HC: My first runway was for Valentino, that was pretty big. And my first big achievement modeling for a magazine was the cover of British Vogue with Peter Lindbergh.
LB: Was there a particular turning point in your career?
HC: I feel like it was more of a stable journey that began with a stroke of luck thanks to me meeting incredible people who believed in me and then it went on slowly building up on its own rhythm.
LB: What’s your favorite runway ever and why?
HC: The 1992 Versace show. The dresses, the hair and makeup. Everything was amazing.
LB: How would you describe 90’s glamour?
HC: Sexy, cool and fun.
LB: How was the industry changed in the last years?
HC: I feel like changes in fashion always come and go in circles, but social media has definitely been the biggest change, and not necessarily in a positive way.
LB: What is the thing that excites you the most about modeling and photography?
HC: I’m obsessed with photography, so I enjoy seeing what happens on both ends of the lens. When I model I go to the little world inside my head and when I take photos I sometimes even forget to breathe from getting so excited with what I’m looking at.
LB: What does a day in the life of Helena look like?
HC: If I’m upstate I’m always doing some sort of activity like swimming, cooking or running; if I’m in NYC I’ll be walking my dogs, sipping lattes, organizing and editing photos, boxing and then out for dinner and drinks.
LB: When did you fall in love with helping others
HC: Ever since I was a little girl, I could feel other people’s suffering close to my heart and so this made me very conscious of how much you can help change a person’s life with a little bit of help.
LB: Can you tell us about UNHCR?
HC: I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to be a part of this awesome organization and to be able to travel to refugee camps around the world, to listen to people’s stories and capture their essence and lives with my camera to then share with the world.
LB: What is your go-to makeup?
HC: Cat eyes, blush and red lips.
LB: What do you consider to be your trademark: eyes or lips?
LB: How do you manage being a mom, supermodel, Nylon magazine co-founder, global UNHCR ambassador, Strange Love creative director and Staerk & Christensen founder?
HC: I’m always a mom. Being a model and having two businesses (Staerk & Christensen and Strange Love) are in the same category, they’re jobs. And going on missions with UNHCR and other organizations is something that I always find time for because it’s important to me being part of a better future.
Helena left me captivated not only by her beauty but by her simplicity, charisma and enthusiasm for life. There really couldn’t have been anybody more perfect than her to grace our cover for The Icons Book.
Look 1: total look, Louis Vuitton; cuff, Elsa Peretti by Tiffany & Co.
Look 2: total look, Gucci; rings, Bvlgari; mesh socks, Southpaw Vintage.
Look 3: t-shirt, Dolce & Gabbana; leather pants, Zero + María Cornejo; bracelets and rings, Juste un Clou by Cartier.
Look 4: total look, Valentino.
Look 5: pants, Chanel; gloves, Hyke; boots, Sacai.
Look 6: total look, Prada.
Look 7: total look, Dior; bracelet, Chopard.
*All the beauty products used in this story are exclusively from Yves Saint Laurent Beauty.