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Meet the New Girl: Ollie Henderson Thinks She Reads Too Much Philosophy

Australian model Ollie Henderson is not afraid to have a personality — something models are often told is important just as often as they're made afraid to be themselves. A close friend to fellow models Rachel Rutt and Myf Shepherd, Henderson was discovered as a sophomore in high school while shopping in her native Melbourne. Now 21, the David Sims favorite has already walked the fall 2011 shows for cool London labels like Marios Schwab and Roksanda Ilincic, and shot for directional fashion magazines like The Gentlewoman, Tank, and Metal. We chatted more with Henderson, who's about to walk in her first New York Fashion Week, about her diet, "year of not caring," love of Patti Smith, and more.

Tell us a bit about your childhood.
I was born in Daylesford in Victoria, outside of Melbourne, but I grew up in a very small town called Creswick. The population was about 3,000 and we had no high schools and only one shopping center; actually, it was just one grocery store with five pubs surrounding. I grew up across from a cemetery, and hope my mum doesn’t read this, but one of my favorite things to do when I was 14 was to sneak across the road into the cemetery and hang out.

If not modeling, what would you be doing?
Making music and performing, for sure. I'd love to be a part of an all-girl punk band, kind of like The Slits; a bit riot grrrl-esque would be shit tons of fun.

What's your most favorite and least favorite feature about yourself?
Your questions are tricky … At the moment, I really love my hair. I've never been blonde until recently, but also, it's a shit ton of maintenance. When I was a brunette, I never owned a hairbrush, but now I have three different kinds of shampoos with treatments every week and it's a bit of a hassle. My least favorite feature is that I tend to overthink things.

Describe your style.
Lately, I've been mixing Cruel Intentions nineties Catholic schoolgirl with a young Patti Smith.

Have you read Just Kids?
Yes, and I truly enjoyed it. I don't typically read nonfiction, so it was really nice to have a book that I didn't have to think a lot about. It was a beautiful story. By the end, I kind of wanted to move to New York and become a rock star.

What are you reading right now?
I just started Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene is one of the most influential books I've read lately.

What would you like accomplish in 2011?
Well, this has been my year of not caring. I feel like I've spent the past few years thinking too much about existential questions; Why are we here? What's the meaning of life? Is the universe expanding? Yes, of course it is. I need to stop reading philosophy.

You're about to stranded on an island and you can bring one person and one thing, what would you bring?
I would bring Mr. Mutt, who is the combined persons of my two best friends: Rachel [Rutt] and Myf [Shepherd]. And we would bring music.

Guilty pleasure?
A black coffee with a chocolate-chip cookie.

Do you work out and what's your diet like?
I do like to think about what I eat, but, hell, I also like to enjoy what I eat, too. Exercise-wise, I do yoga. I think yoga is one of the best things you can do as a model. Not so much about the physical aspect, but in how it brings awareness to your body. On a photo shoot you're made to contort your body in the most awkward positions in front of twenty people, and you're made to do that in yoga too.

What's the one thing you couldn't live without?
Red lipstick. Everything looks better with red lipstick on.

Life motto?
I have two. One: The answer in life is yes because yes is more exciting and gets you places. And two: What would you do if you weren't afraid?

Your idea of happiness is …
Finding joy in the small things. People spend too much time worrying about things they cannot solve. If one can just appreciate the little things in life, like this leaf to the left of us, and see how wonderful that is, it brings you a lot more happiness.

Model Profile: Ollie Henderson

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Photo: Courtesy of Next Models

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