Daily Life

Helena Christensen's advice for the #metoo generation

Supermodel Helena Christensen has said it is the shared responsibility of designers, agents and parents to ensure the wellbeing of young models.

"The responsibility lies with the designers, the big fashion houses, the agents, not so much with the girls and boys, they are so young, they are still developing personalities and becoming who they will be as grown ups," she said.

Helena Christensen (right) with her business partner Camilla Staerk in Melbourne on Thursday. Photo: Simon Schluter

"Parents and agents need to make sure these kids are guided in the right way, especially at the start of their career."

As one of the original "supermodels" of the 1990s, Christensen has worked with many top photographers and designers, including some who have, in recent times, been accused of sexual harassment.

Helena Christensen (right) was part of the Versace supermodel reunion last September with (from left) Claudia Shiffer, Donatella Versace, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford. Photo: AP

Danish-born Christensen's parents often accompanied her on shoots when she was a young model, and she said she "only did what I really felt was right in my stomach".

Speaking to Fairfax Media in Melbourne, where she visiting this week to promote her "third career" as an accessories designer and attend the Melbourne Fashion Festival, Christensen said she was happy to give advice to young people entering or thinking of entering the modelling industry.

"They really just have to believe in themselves and make sure that no-one tries to change anything about them they don't feel comfortable about," she said.

"It's good to be able to share my experience with them and give a different perspective about how I made it and [how] I did not in any way put aside what I believed in to please anyone."

No doubt Christensen, 49, has passed some of this wisdom on to her son, Mingus, who is following in her footsteps as a model.

Mingus, 16, is Christensen's only child, from her five-year marriage to Walking Dead star Norman Reedus. The couple split in 2003.

Helena Christensen pictured in 2011, the last time she was at the Melbourne Fashion Festival. Photo: Chris Hopkins CNH

Christensen met her new business partner, fellow Dane and designer Camilla Staerk, about 18 years ago. Their sunglasses range, a collaboration with Australian brand Pared Eyewear, launched online on Monday and will be carried in David Jones.

Christensen, who once dated the late Michael Hutchence, said her latest career as a designer is the culmination of her first two careers as a model and photographer.

She has also been behind the camera for humanitarian causes, including the UNHCR to highlight the plight of refugees.

"Because I have had a public persona all these years, charities and organisations have approached me to work with them as a photographer... and not just be a face, or an ambassador, but actually be part of it and use my work to promote and raise awareness," she said.

Christensen said the collaboration between her, Staerk and Pared came about after the brand spotted her wearing a pair of its sunglasses.

She said the three styles of sunglasses incorporated the shape of the swallow bird, which is one of the national birds of Denmark.

"The way they move, in flight, how they signify freedom, free spiritedness, we wanted to incorporate that into the glasses and it's what we [have in common]," Christensen said.

Christensen has been coming to Australia for nearly three decades and said it was a "magical country".

"Australia to me means memories and signifies summer, warm people, ocean, surf," she said.

The supermodel has previously walked in the Melbourne Fashion Festival, but this week she is staying off the catwalk.

"I've always been a huge fan of [Australian] designers so it's great to be here and see them firsthand at the show."

The Melbourne Fashion Festival runs until March 18. vamff.com.au.