How much can we possibly j’adore Helena Christensen, one of our favouritest supermods like, ever? This much:
*Stretches arms sooooo wide that breakage occurs, and Inspector Gadget has to intervene with his Go-Go Gadget Arms (again)*
Anways, we interviewed Helena and it was excitement in the extreme. This is what she had to say on matters plural.
As a model, are you stupid?
It’s funny, because models are always perceived as being stupid. The girls who I grew up with in the business are super-smart. But maybe you’re right! It’s kind of crazy, because we’re always joking that you have to pretend not to be this smart, or be able to speak seven languages. Like Christy, who did a degree while she was modelling. It’s like, just stand there and pretend and smile!
Were you ever embarrassed to admit you were a model, in case people assumed you were stupid?
If I did it all again, I wouldn’t be so worried about what other people thought about you because you were a model. Now I say it with pride. At one point it was very embarrassing to say you were a model because what you are, you’re a product whose face and looks are the major focus. You need to have a sense of humour and a lot of self-irony, and be able to distance yourself.
When was the moment you thought, ‘Yep, I’ve made it. I’m a real-life supermodel!’
Well, after I graduated I hitchhiked around the world and when I came back, I was asked to go with a little agency to Paris for a week, and try it out. I thought, ‘This is so naff and I can’t be bothered,’ but it was a free weekend in Paris and I had no money, so I was like, ‘Yey! Can I bring my boyfriend?’ I went down and never left. I was so lucky from the beginning, and in the first week I ran into Karl Lagerfeld and Peter Lindbergh. Karl booked me for the Chanel campaign, and it started from there! Then of course Herb Ritts, not long after, did the Chris Isaak video [‘Wicked Game’]. I still have 16-year-old boys coming up to me and going, ‘Oh my God!’ I’m like, ‘God bless – I’m not in my bikini now!’
That was quite a pivotal moment for many a hormonal boy – quite a few gennelman round these parts didn’t know whether to fancy you or Chris Isaak!
Well you ended up fancying Chris, obviously! [laughs] I didn’t do my job very well! I’m happy that I helped you. I’m always trying to help with sexual orientations! It’s a good thing to be able to make a difference! But you know, it was just one of those iconic things and Herb was a wonderful, wonderful person. It’s so fucking annoying that he had to go and succumb [Herb was HIV+ when he died of pneumonia-related complications in 2002]. But I’m so proud of having done that. And I’ll score on that video forever!
Talking of scoring, are there any significant others?
You know what, I’m in a very interesting phase of being curious and open about everything and everyone right now. People always feel sorry for you if you’re single, but I think it’s the best time. At this point in my life I see a relationship as I want to die with this person.
That’s a bit heavy!
I’m way too morbid! [laughs] But sometimes it pops up in my head – is this the person that I want to be in bed with, holding their hand? And are these the last eyes I’m going to look into? So basically that cuts out a lot of people, because how many people do you want to sit and have that experience with?
Yeah! If you don’t want to be in a relationship, just put that thought in your head! [laughs]
You’re going to be a sad old spinster for the rest of your life!
Yeah, but that might not be such a bad thing!
Don’t all the dads at Mingus’s (Helena’s son) school fancy you?
No, they’re all married! And they all come in couples every day all dressed up in their business suits and smart skirts. I come in, hair up to here at the last minute, looking like a freak, going, ‘Does my hair smell of cigarettes?’ They’re all grown-ups, living a grown-up life in marriages.
If someone were to meet you on the street and didn’t know who you were, how would you describe yourself? Model or photographer or what?
Well, for many years I actually lied. Someone sits next to you on the plane, you say you’re a model and they find that so exciting and you have to sit there and talk for hours about it. So I would tell them I’m a photographer now becuase it makes it easier. If I say I’m a model and a photographer and I have an antiques store [Butik, in New York’s West Village] and I’ve done a movie, it’s all a bit tedious.
Do you worry about ageing and all that, what with having a career based on looks?
I don’t think you’d be a human if you didn’t. I worry about nearing death more than getting older. It’s always been a huge issue for me, the thought of every hour and every day being one bit closer to death. I’m going to make you very depressed! You’re going to leave this interview and go… But I’m also very easy to make happy! It’s the little things, silly little things – a leaf floating in rain water.
That’s very poetic.
Yeah! But you know what I mean. Of course it’s about your body, too. Especially when you’ve been in a job that has so much focus on your body. I’ve always been a huge admirer of the female body and when I look at photos I think the female body is so beautiful. The breasts, the hips…
You’re going all lezzer on us, aren’t you?
[laughs] Well… The only reason being I’m not is – well, I’m not!
Helena is starring in A Night of Fashion, at the Tower of London Music Festival, on 28th June. To get yourself a ticket (and a have a lovely time as a result), call 0870 169 6870. Or go to the interdolly site. ps. Now let’s watch Helena and Chris in moving picture format. Oh, okay then.