If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hairspray and electric toothbrush. We asked supermodel Helena Christensen — who recently collaborated on a collection with fashion label Anine Bing — about the face wash, camera, and book she can’t live without.
I don’t know if I could survive without jazz and classical music. Not survive in a physical form, but in a mental, psychological way. Music literally sets the tone for my entire day. Every morning, without fail, I turn on my radio and listen to jazz. Mingus is my absolute favorite. He was a very complex, dark soul, and he conveys that so well with his compositions. It taps into your veins. I cannot even comprehend how he was able to construct such complicated compositions. I’ve listened to the record over and over, and it blows my mind every time. My kid is named Mingus, actually — thankfully his father also loved jazz — and then Lucian after Lucian Freud, the painter. When our son was born, we went to see the Mingus Big Band play at the Fez Club, when it was still around. Mingus himself was dead, but his band was still playing. That evening, his widow was there. At one point, somebody told her that there was a family there with a newborn named Mingus. She came to us and gave us a book she wrote about her and Charles Mingus’s love story. She signed it for Mingus, our son.
All of a sudden, a few years back, it was such a thing to use jade or rose quartz stones and rollers for your face. Everyone started using them all at the same time. It makes sense, though. The face needs the same kind of activity and stimulation that we give the rest of our body — the only time it’s stimulated is if we’re talking or laughing, but that stimulation keeps it firm because it keeps the blood flow going and promotes collagen growth. My first roller was a jade roller, and then I got one of those flat ones that are shaped like a knuckle — the name escapes me. I got this one after a facial with Angela herself. You can feel the muscle being activated afterwards, which is a really great feeling. It’s also electric, so it’s even more efficient. I use it every morning and evening, just for a minute. But honestly, I bring it everywhere with me. I’ll use it in a car; I’ll use it on a plane; if I’m sitting for awhile, I’ll use it. I keep it in my handbag and just pull it out — even though people might find the vibrating sound a little annoying. At the end of the day, I think it works.
I am obsessed with scents, like thoroughly obsessed. I actually have a little perfume company – that’s how in love with smells I am. Boy Smells makes the most beautiful scents. They’re not overwhelming; they’re quite subtle with very authentic notes. When I smell something that really affects me, it’s like a little explosion in my brain. These candles are just so wonderful. How I really fell in love with them was the colors they use on their glass. They embrace a huge palette of colors that change throughout the season. Last year around Christmastime, they came out with these bright red ones. I bought so many because I burn them so much. When I’m done, I clean them out and keep using them. I keep my toothbrushes in them and pens or I put tea candles in there. You can even drink from them if you clean them out well enough. This year’s holiday collection is one of the best they’ve done. They have these beautiful iridescent jars. It’s hard to pick a favorite, which is why I love the sets, so I don’t have to choose.
There are a few books that I keep rereading in my life, and this is one of them. I’ve probably read it seven or eight times now. Most things in my life move towards darkness but not necessarily in a depressing way. I’ve always loved anything that had melancholic poetry to it. And this book, which I read the first time probably in my late teens or early 20s, left a big impression on me. It really spoke to me, and it touched something inside of me, a place that most aren’t often in touch with that’s very, very heavy and dark. But it’s written in such a way that out of all that darkness comes this beautiful love story. The book starts with a poem, then the rest of the book is sort of about that poem. The author has the ability to eloquently write about human emotions in such an impactful, dark way. Every time I read this book, I start tearing up on exactly the same page.
I discovered this brand via Instagram, which is actually a great way to discover very small, independent companies. Most of them make the products from their home with such joy and love and care, and you feel it when you try their products. This balm is just so beautiful. It has the most unbelievable scent and it feels amazing. All the ingredients are really pure. I’d say my skin is pretty normal. Both of my parents have really great skin, and I’m very thankful that I don’t really have any issues with my skin. I tan easily — my mother is from Peru — so I always make sure to protect and hydrate my skin, since I’m a very outdoor person. I use this everywhere basically: around my eyes, on my lips, my cheeks, everywhere. You need so little to actually cover a pretty big area, so it lasts a long time. I don’t know if it has anything in it to give you a little bit of shine, but after I apply it, I think it catches the light so beautifully if I wear it with nothing over it. It softens my skin, and I definitely notice a difference after using it.
I have a big variety of cameras. They’re mostly old models: Holga, Lomo, and my absolute favorite which is my Konica Polaroid camera. When Polaroid went out of business, I managed to buy and store a ton of them. I use my Leica most to shoot digital. The look and feel of the camera is so special. It has that historical feel to it, and the sound of the shutter — oh, the shutter! We use our phones for, I would say, 99 percent of our photos in our daily life. It’s very rare that we walk around with a camera these days, and on shoots, it’s all digital, but I still like the feeling that I’m holding an analog camera. Even though it’s digital, when I’m shooting on my Leica, it gives me that feel I get from my vintage cameras. There is nothing better than the sound of a shutter. I started out as a photographer actually, not a model. At first, I saw modeling as an interesting opportunity when that chance came along to continue my photography career. I’m fortunate that modeling did work out, because I love it, but it gave me the most incredible firsthand education with some legendary, iconic photographers.
I’ve seen Joanna Vargas for many, many years, both in New York and L.A. Her facials just feel so good, and they make your skin look so beautiful. It’s not an invasive way of doing a facial, where they go really deep and clean your pores out thoroughly. I do those sometimes, but I prefer Joanna’s style of facial. And her products are just as good. The smell is amazing, and that’s what initially made me fall in love with it. I always tell her to make perfume. This [face wash] is a beautiful product to use — I mean just really, really beautiful. When you wash your face, it doesn’t leave your skin dry, where you feel like you have to apply lotion immediately afterward. It feels hydrated and soft. Vitamin C is so important for our skin, and I think my skin looks very fresh afterwards.
Jeans are a very personal thing — I think it’s probably one of the closest relationships we’ll have to any item of clothing. I was very specific when designing these: I wanted high waisted, straight legs, and lived-in looking denim to give it sort of that retro feel and look to them. Anine, the designer, agreed, so we went with it. For me, these are the perfect pair of jeans. They fit like a glove and are so flattering. I’ll wear jeans in any tone — really bright pink, neon yellow, dark wash — but for this pair, I thought the light wash just seemed so right. My style is sort of a mix of every style there is … so if there’s a word for that, then that’s my style.
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