Helena Christensen on being a Triumph Judge and THAT Duran Duran Video!

08 July 2011

Think Helena Christensen, think famed supermodel, cheeky cheekbones and that super hot writhing-in-the-sand music video. So how excited was I to have a cuppa in bed with the Great Dane? Umm, VERY.

Granted, I wasn't exactly in bed with her and admittedly, there was no tea for me, but who's nit-picking? What is true is that our meeting took place in Hotel nhow's delightful pink boudoir, Big Breakfast-meets-Barbie stylee. SEE:

Tasteful, no?

It’s Wednesday afternoon and Helena is in Berlin to judge Triumph's Inspiration Awards, the lingerie design competition, which sources entries from fashion students all over the world to compete in one giant undies smackdown. Here at Grazia HQ, we fondly call it the “Eurovision Thong Contest”. Ha!

You'll remember Grazia Daily was a less-cheekboney-judge for the UK heat when Emma Walters was chosen to represent our nation with her plastic moulded corset, so we’re familiar with the intense judging process. 'I can get really stubborn,’ the model admits when I ask if she ever edges towards Simon Cowell territory, ‘I'm really vocal and straightforward and loud. But only in the last second!’

Helena with her fellow Triumph judges - Anita Tillmann, Coco Lee, Ellen von Unwerth, Lily Cole and Jos Berry

But forget being Mr Nasty, Christensen champions the global contest for nurturing new design talent - the prize is 15,000 euros and the chance to retail in Triumph’s outlets worldwide - because this is one lady who knows the tricky fashwan biz. 'I designed a little collection with a friend once,’ she recalls (that’s Christensen & Sigersen for the uninitiated among us, which Helena set up with life-long friend Leif Sigersen). ‘We only did ten pieces but we did it all ourselves and it was probably the toughest gig I've ever done in my life. We would source all the materials and literally walk down the street carrying the fabric, we'd get samples back with everything wrong, or the boxes would be flooded during shipment and everything was ruined.' Gulp. So would she consider designing again? 'If I ever did, I would want the support of a brand who already has the experience.'

A brand like Triumph, in fact. After a whooping 125 years of dressing women in alluring bras and knickers, the underwear maestros are the world’s most international lingerie brand and now they’ve joined forces with Helena to create an exclusive range. 'I don't have to worry about the [business] aspect as much as just being creative and inspired,' she says of the design process.

And aside from undercrackers, what would be her dream project? 'Jewellery pieces are always so much fun to think up. I recently designed a charity bracelet to raise money with SEIMEI; I hardly wear any jewellery myself so what I did design was very petite, very delicate.’

Indeed, Ms C is charmingly unfussy, looking sweet-as-pie perched on the duvet wearing a dress covered in daisy prints. 'It's by Collette Dinnigan and reminds me of the dresses my grandmother used to sew me as a child.'

So now aged 42 and armed with oodles of sartorial know-how, the mother of one must have the confidence to wear whatever she wants? 'No, not at all, probably the contrary!’ she laughs. ‘Your wardrobe grows over the years so these days I don't even want to go too deep in there - I just want to pick what's right at the front.' Oh, we can only imagine the vintage gems - Versace gowns! Alaia dresses! - buried within her treasure trove... 'I try to clean out once in a while and my mum has a second-hand store [Yo-Yo in Copenhagen], which is very convenient for that reason. But I do sometimes feel like, "don't buy anything else for the rest of your life because you already have everything you need." And then the new collections come out and you're like, "okay, they've designed something you absolutley haven't seen before and that you must own!"' Ah, we’ve all been there, HC.

And with that, my time with the Danish beauty is up, but not before I excitedly mention THAT Duran Duran music video - y'know, the one starring a gaggle of legendary catwalkers dolled up in Dolce & Gabbana (corsets! lace! chokers!) and performing as an uber-glam girl band. Oh yes, it's set to be an iconic Fashion Moment reminiscent of George Michael’s Freedom video, and that's no mean feat.

'Oh, it was amazing,' Helena sighs. ‘I originally wanted to be involved because Jonas Åkerlund was directing and the track’s great – the band's songs represent different stages in my life.' Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Eva Herzigova and Yasmin le Bon, who also feature in the video, must represent a fair few Supermodel Era memories too? 'Yes, so many! I had dinner with Yasmin recently and we spent the entire evening laughing and reminiscing. I took a photo of us and sent it to my mum because she remembers our times together from way back when.’ Yeeeep, we can’t wait to see that video. And we have every faith it’ll be nothing but another super-hot Helena Triumph.


by Jessica Vince


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