by Helena Christensen, VS. Magazine, Fall-Winter 2012. Photos by Helena Christensen. Scans by Rianon.
Take Liv Tyler, put her in a room with Helena Christensen. A bedroom.
Helena's, to be precise. Who doesnít want to be a fly on the wall for this
conversation? We think there's something magical - hypnotizing, almost -
about these two women with a very POETIC CHARISMA in tandem. And it
has nothing to do with their natural beauty.
LIV VS. HELENA...
HC: Here we are, in my bedroom, on my bed, just you and I, alone. Sounds very romantic, but the truth is that this was the only place we could escape to for some peace for this conversation, since both our homes are full of family and friends
LT: Summer guests all over the place. I gotta remember youíre an interviewer now and you want to know everything about my innermost thoughts and feelings.
HC: I will be gentle with you. Do you remember when we met? Iím asking because I actually donít remember the first time, and I want to relive it.
LT: I do! We were both at the Royalton Hotel, in the lobby bar. I came in and you were sitting at a long table with a bunch of people. That was the first time I laid eyes on you. I was probably 15.
HC: Those Royalton days were crazy, fun and a bit of a blur. But yeah, I remember that evening now. Then we kept bumping into each other over the years, and about 13 years ago I photographed
you for the first time. We spent a few hours taking pictures, dressing you up in vintage dresses that were falling apart. We were feeding you M&Ms for one of the shots, and I think that turned out to be my favorite photo Iíve ever taken of you. After our day together I found out I was pregnant with my son.
LT: That was a very special day.
HC: Recently you and I spent some time together upstate, where I photographed you in an empty old barn, with baby foxes running around and a river roaring through next to us. You were channeling your inner eccentric, moody darkness. Tell me about what itís like to take on another character, for a movie or a photo shoot.
LT: When Iím making a movie or thinking of a woman Iím going to play it starts with a feeling and a connection; it just happens and it grows. It can be quite powerful sometimes, like I have two
people living inside of me. For a photo shoot, itís very immediate, spontaneous, heightened creativity. I gather a lot of inspiration from my surroundings and I really enjoyed the wild energy that exists at your house upstate.
HC: You grew up in the area, if Iím not mistaken. Have you always felt a strong connection with nature?
LT: Woodstock/Bearsville was my very first home. My stepfather Todd lived there, so as soon as I was born and could leave the hospital, we made the trip up to Exit 19 on the highway. I remember Toddís house there so well. The way it smelled, and the way it felt to play in the woods. I always feel very free when Iím in nature. My curiosity started in the woods.
HC: How did your childhood define the woman you are now?
LT: Well, I moved around a lot between Maine and New York, my family was sort of spread out. I was raised by my mom, my aunt Annie, my grandmother, Todd and then, when I was 11, I found out Steven [Tyler, ed.] was my dad. I think the definition of what a Ďnormalí family is never was normal to me.
HC: In a way you had love coming from many different sources instead growing up with a traditional family situation. Something
else that shapes you as a child is books, movies, art. One of your movies that really resonated with me is Stealing Beauty. The atmosphere that translates off the screen is so magical and
LT: It was definitely a magical set to be on. It was a beautiful old farm on the top of a hill in the middle of the Tuscan countryside and we really lived the story of the movie. I remember I
graduated from high school the day before the shoot started, so I literally went straight from a celebration with my family into a cab and off to Rome to do a fitting with Armani for the clothes of
my character, and then on to Sienna to work with Bertolucci. It was my first time in Italy and I felt an instant connection, I think, because my dadís family is Italian. I felt very at home there, like a
HC: Did you come back from that whole experience as a changed young woman?
LT: I had my 18th birthday there, and I came back with so many beautiful and profound experiences inside of me. Another director that had a huge impact on me was Robert Altman. In a loving way he told me to shut up and not think so much as he
patted my but and sent me back to set. He was telling me to trust my own instincts and not overthink things.
HC: During our days together, you sang quite a bit. Your voice is seriously lovely and I really enjoyed listening to you, especially late at night when you were singing old country-western
songs quietly to yourself. You also sang recently in a Givenchy commercial. Tell me about that, and if itís something youíd like to pursue.
LT: I sing morning, noon and night to myself, and a lot of the times out loud ó I canít help it! I even think in song, everything relates in music to me. I have always dreamed of doing a musical like Sweet Charity, High Society or Cabaret. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era of movie making. I would have loved to have been owned by a studio and had one picture after the next filled with beautiful sets, incredible costumes, singing and dancing. Iím learning how to tap dance this summer out in my farmhouse in the country.
HC: Talking about beauty, you truly are one of the most exquisite looking women ever. It is such a lovely experience photographing you because your face is so wonderful and so full of light. And you move your body with such grace, twirling around, dancing in front of the camera. What does beauty and grace and confidence mean to you?
LT: I have learned a lot about being a woman, about grace and inner and outer beauty from my mother and my grandmother. Not only from their physical selves, but from the way they have lived so truthfully in their lives. For me every thing starts from the inside out. When I feel good on the inside I can be truly free and alive. Over the past few years I have allowed myself to cherish being a mother and spending time with my family, and now I feel a healthy desire to immerse myself into work again. But there's gotta be a balance, and most importantly, there's gotta be the sense that your heart guides you through.
We love beauty both in front of - and behind - the camera.
So we asked Helena Christensen to turn her hazy, poetic lens on dear
friend LIV TYLER. The result? A brilliant artistic woman leaves the
world behind, creating her own little universe away from structure and
conformity - at Helenaís place upstate.
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