SBJCT reconnects with one of our favorite muses, Helena Christensen, and her partner in fashion, Camilla Stærk, as they showcase their namesake collection which is currently collaborating to pay it forward with City Meals. Shot in quarantine in upstate NY. Read on…
BY ERIN WALSH
Erin Walsh I want to talk about your line STÆRK & CHRISTENSEN and how you originally got started. What was the impetus? And who were your muses? When was this by the way?
Helena Christensen We met in Denmark in the Summer of 2000. I was living in Nyc, and had just co-founded and was the creative director of Nylon Magazine, on top of her modeling and a photography career. Camilla was living in London and had just graduated from design college, sold her graduate collection to Browns and had been awarded a sponsorship to a runway show at London Fashion Week a few weeks later. Nylon was doing a piece on this, and I was shooting her portrait and the collection.
We completely clicked creatively and personally that day, and a few months later we spontaneously went to Prague together and shot Camilla’s first lookbook; we cast the girls when we there, did the hair and make-up on the spot and went on to shoot around the streets of this beautiful poetic city. The result was little hand bound limited edition book, which we are still so proud of. To this day it really sums up our creative bond, and how our sensibilities meet.
From then on, we kept collaborating over the years (including designing a loungewear collection for Anthropologie under the name ‘Edith 11’ after Egon Schiele’s muse and wife, and a first jewelry collection for Danish heritage watch brand Skagen), and our brand kind of formed itself around us, it was a natural progression until we officially launched Stærk&Christensen in 2018.
Our bond is rooted in a mutual deep yearning to always create, channeling our constant flow of inspiration. We are subconsciously inspired by and absorbing so much around us and consciously we set out to create objects and designs that are inspired by our Scandinavian heritage and mutual love for film noir, old Hollywood mystique, and melancholic poetry.
EW Talk to me about the white space in the industry- did you see a missing element that you thought you could fill?
HC I never thought of it that way. When I started I was looking it be a photographer and when the chance of traveling around the world as a model arose I decided to try it out so I could take pictures. That’s how I started and funny enough it’s still how I feel about it in some ways. Having this lucky career in a unique business that happened to incite my real passion, photography.
EW How has the industry changed since you started and how have you responded to these changes?
HC I feel I’ve been in this industry for so long I don’t really feel the changes anymore. Everything changes back to the same. Everything goes in circles somehow. I do feel like the group of girls I was amongst from the beginning and still am around seem to have defied all the rules of the industry and that perhaps is the biggest change of all, long lasting and solid careers.
EW Let’s get more immediate- obviously, this new post-COVID world has completely upended the landscape of the fashion industry, not to mention the entire world. What was your immediate response, both personally and professionally?
HC It still is a complex thought to comprehend. Everyone is affected. The virus itself is what it is, which is dark enough but the universal collapse of everyone’s life is very hard to fathom. I try to somehow pretend we’re all in a bubble, a time out situation and that when we get launched back into real life again, everything will be different and better.
EW I would love to talk a bit about how creation can be an antidote to challenges. How do you find that harnessing your creativity can work as a solution? Any favorite outlets you would like to share?
HC Creativity, such as photo shoots in nature during this time has literally saved me from going too dark in my mind. And basic routines such as cooking every day and cleaning. Staying busy. Most of all though, nature. I can’t express strongly enough how I feel about nature and how important it is for me to be in it as much as possible. I wade into the river every day and sit on a mossy rock and just observe and listen.
And everyone who needs help deserves help, especially the elderly.
EW Tell us a bit about this intiative you are currently doing with the brand to provide assistance to City Meals. How did you choose City Meals?
HC My grandmother was 100 when she died. I spent a lot of time with her and in her last few years saw how important it is for the elderly to have the option of meals delivered at home. So many elderly in NY need help with grocery shopping or delivered meals. And everyone who needs help deserves help, especially the elderly. Citymeals is an amazing organization that provides exactly this.
EW What is the best way YOU think we can be of service during these challenging times?
HC By staying at home and isolating as best as possible and thereby being respectful of immune compromised people who are at high risk.
EW What is your favorite unwinding tool these days?
HC I’m rewatching Six Feet Under – one of the best shows ever.
EW Go to outfit?
HC These days, swimsuit with sweatpants.
EW Tell me a a bit about your freezing cold dips, which I find to be most impressive.
HC Ahhh it’s a bit of an obsession, both mentally and physically. It started out as a challenge with myself and I guess always will be somehow. I need to push myself to do certain things in life, it’s a strange necessity, it thrills me somehow. But there’s another side to it, the one of being as close to nature as I possibly can. One with, in lack of a less cliched phrase.
EW Any cooking going on upstate you would like to share with us?
HC I’ve made a lot of ramps pesto lately. I go pick them in the forest with my isolation crew and then I sit outside in the garden cleaning them which is almost meditative. Then I blend them with pinenuts, olive oil, Parmesan, lime and lemon juice and salt and pepper. I use it for pastas and marinate chicken and fish in it.
EW What is your FAVE S&C piece (s)?? Anything you think every woman MUST have?
HC The slit bootlets in black and white are the only pair of shoes you’ll ever need. I’m not kidding. You can wear them with anything and they’re so unbelievably comfortable that you don’t even feel you have them on.
EW How do you hope this crisis can impact the industry in a positive way?
HC More sustainability hopefully. More thought put into everything. What do we really need, where is it made and how, what is it made of.
EW Helena, if we can be the change we want to see in the world, how do you embody this? What are you most proud of recently?
HC I feel very proud of having been appointed a global goodwill ambassador. In a very small way that means I can perhaps contribute to the awareness of the state of the refugee situation in the world. That is a responsibility I take very serious.
EW Number one piece of advice to our readers right now?
HC Shit happens. This time it was a biggie. Let’s embrace this together and come out on the other side with more respect for this life we’re given and this planet we get to live it on.
I feel very proud of having been appointed a global goodwill ambassador.