Bright and early on Friday morning, it was Helena Christensen who got Grazia Daily in the Fashion Week spirit. The supermodel, looking insanely bronzed and gorgeously cheekboney, met us at the Mayfair Hotel to unveil her first ever lingerie collection for undies hero, Triumph.
A stream of models sauntered through the hotel room showcasing the 1940s-esque creations that come in bright shades from juicy orange to citrus yellow, aqua and a powdery retro mauve-pink. Helena happily chatted us through every piece in that dreamy Danish accent of hers while sitting on a chaise lounge wearing a colourful Temperley frock and neon-accented pumps.
The collection really is divine, from bondage-inspired criss-crossing bands to ballerina-inspired pieces and one uber-feminine bra of soft pink tulle covered in black lace. Afterwards, we grilled Helena about being influenced by Fifty Shades of Grey, her happy catwalk memories with Matthew Williamson and the question she never knows how to answer...
Grazia Daily: We love the collection! How would you sum it up?
Helena Christensen: I has a poetic and feminine feel to it, but not too sensual or too sexy.
Grazia Daily: So why did you decide to go into designing now?
Helena Christensen: Triumph offered me the chance to design a line and I was like, 'For sure!' This also gave me the chance to educate myself because the team would teach me the background of how to construct lingerie. Just the fact that they gave me such responsibility was amazing. They basically said, 'We’re 100% behind you, just give us your ideas'. That’s a really cool offer to have.
Grazia Daily: Did you have a lot of control during the process? The look book in particular seems very personal.
Helena Christensen: Yeah we shot it in my house in Denmark because it suited that poetic feeling. I shot all the stills and did the mood shots (Helena is a keen photographer, dontcha know). I thought the personal aspect should carry through the whole process.
Grazia Daily: Is that your horse in one of the images?
Helena Christensen: No, I don’t have any horses but we found them in a field on a little island in Denmark. I love photographing horses.
Helena modelling her lingerie collection
Grazia Daily: The straps are similiar to the bondage trend we've just seen at New York Fashion Week. Were you influenced by Fifty Shades of Grey?
Helena Christensen: No. I’m actually reading Henry Miller. The hard-core version! I never like reading something or wearing something that’s popular at that moment. It’s not that I consciously don’t follow trends, but I tend to distance myself from something that’s being pushed upon you. So I would not want to be reading a book that everyone else is reading. I’ll wait four years and then I might read it - or at least I’ll hide it behind another magazine! Otherwise I would be too affected by everyone's opinions and I’d rather feel it my own way at another time when it’s not so huge.
Grazia Daily: So it's more your own personal preferences that influence your designs?
Helena Christensen: Exactly. I always have my head full of ideas and it’s impossible not to when you’ve been in a such a creative business for so long. I’m always tearing pages from magazines and taking photos from movies. So when it came to designing, it was really just opening a box of ideas.
Grazia Daily: You must have seen so many beautiful designs throughout your career - was there anything in particular that inspired you?
Helena Christensen: The thing that's most inspiring is vintage. The craftsmanship of it, the details, the faded colours. There’s so much beauty in these pieces.
Grazia Daily: Would you like to see more underwear on the catwalk?
Helena Christensen: If I was a designer, I would do a variety of pieces and include lingerie - but maybe that’s because I love lingerie.
Grazia Daily: Are you considering going into other areas of design?
Helena Christensen: No, I don’t have any ambitions in that direction. I did a small line with a friend once (Christensen & Sigersen) that taught me so much about how intense the process is. It gave me so much respect for new designers. We did it alone and from scratch so it was a good learning experience.
Grazia Daily: So what happened?
Helena Christensen: We did two collections of ten pieces each and I guess that’ll just be one moment in fashion history... When a collaboration with somebody like Triumph comes up, I’m really grateful for the opportunity, but it’s not like I was deliberately looking for it. I believe in coincidence and this was destined to be. From the beginning, when they first approached me about being a campaign girl, I could sense that they wanted the relationship to evolve and it's a good time in my career to be doing that.
Grazia Daily: So you always knew it wasn’t going to be a one-off thing?
Helena Christensen: Exactly. For many years, my job as a model was to present a product in the best way I can. Now, to actually get in-depth with a company, learn about the products and educate myself makes me feel good that I’m actually evolving. I get to see a different side of the business from a different perspective.
Grazia Daily: Has being a model helped with designing?
Helena Christensen: I think so because you know what feels comfortable on your body. For this collection, I was the house model; I put them on and would say, 'We need to tweak this'. When you work with your body for so many years, you have a different process to other designers. It’s funny that everyone is always asking models about their bodies and beauty secrets, but we of all people do not think about it. You distance yourself from it because you’ve worked with your body for so long. But other people seem to have all these issues with how you maintain your body!
Grazia Daily: It must be strange to be asked to analyse your own body...
Helena Christensen: I know! Now I just make up answers. I don’t really know what to say if someone asks what my beauty secret or style tip is. I’m like, 'Okay. What am I going to give them this time?'. You run out of what to say but people always want those questions answered.
Grazia Daily: People are just after that one magic tip that'll make them look like you.
Helena Christensen: But it’s such a strange question because how are you going to tell somebody how to be? I always come up with the same boring, lame answers: I sleep a lot, I drink water, you eat well, you try to be happy... Oh my God, that’s so boring!
Helena with Matthew Williamson in 1998; and in 2009
Grazia Daily: So let's talk about London Fashion Week. Are you going to the shows?
Helena Christensen: Nope. I have a four o’clock flight to New York. I escaped the New York shows to come to London to now escape the London shows!
Grazia Daily: And finally, what’s your best LFW memory?
Helena Christensen: There have been many and I did a lot of shows in London. Yesterday, I ran into Matthew Williamson and we were talking about how we started out together and it feels amazing. I’m very proud of having friends from all the way back who started out from scratch and now have built up little empires. It’s like, 'Oh my God, you did all that and now you’re still the same person, still really lovely and chatty?'. Matthew just never ages and he still has so many ideas inside his head. So doing the first shows with him was great. The same goes for Alice Temperley who started with nothing and now she's created tons of beautiful dresses and has a huge company built up.
Grazia Daily: Not to mention a certain Duchess wearing her designs around the world...
Helena Christensen: Exactly!
Helena Christensen for Triumph’ launches in stores and online from January 2013 www.triumph.com