Helena Christensen on the Power of Scent
Fragrance can tease, cajole, seduce, and hypnotize—Helena Christensen’s new perfume oil, deadofnight, does all of the above, and does it well. The scent, which features a heart of the rare ingredient oud oil, is strong but not obvious, moody but not dark. Rather, the fragrance settles into your skin and the potent green top notes slowly give way to hints of soft florals, as well as smoky sandalwood, amber, and white musk. “I think scent really has the ability to elevate,” Christensen says. “I can put on a little fragrance, and my whole mood and outlook is altered—especially with a scent as powerful as this one.”
We caught up with the model to learn more about the making of this seductive fragrance, her fondest scent memories and rituals, and the classic fragrances that she’ll never tire of. Keep scrolling to read our interview!
photographer Christy Bush
This is such a unique scent, and perfume is such a personal thing. What inspired you to be a part of deadofnight?
Christensen: My friend Elizabeth Gaynes first introduced me to the scent. She was in the early stages of processing a pure form of oud oil into a perfume oil, and as soon as I inhaled the scent, I immediately told her I wanted to be part of the project. I have previously worked with fragrances and had always been interested and fascinated by the scent-developing process, but this oil had such a hypnotic effect on me. I knew instantly that it was something extraordinary.
What is it about oud that you think makes it such a special scent?
Christensen: Oud is one of the rarest fragrance ingredients in the world, and in this fragrance, it creates a mysterious, dark, and sensual note that gives the scent an interesting aphrodisiac effect and makes it intoxicating. The oud used for this fragrance is all sustainably and organically sourced, which I think makes the fragrance all the more special.
Does that explain the higher price point? At $355, it’s definitely a luxury fragrance.
Christensen: The price point is completely based on the ingredients. We’re only using the highest quality ingredients from some of the rarest materials in the world. We also make sure all our materials are ethically and sustainably sourced, which adds to production costs. You don't need many drops of it to make the full scent experience last all day. I can smell it several days after I’ve put it on, in my hair and on my clothes, even.
Was there a particular reason you chose to have the scent be in oil form rather than spray?
Christensen: Using an oil allows the scent to slowly absorb into the skin, where it combines with the wearer to create a deeply personal, unique scent. Putting on an oil also creates a more intimate experience for the wearer. I put the oil on my pulse points and give it some time to develop. This scent is special in that it is truly unique to the wearer, so I like indulging in the thought that no one else will be wearing exactly the same scent.
photographer Christy Bush
You said you believe scent has the ability to elevate—do you believe it has the ability to transport, too?
Christensen: Yes, certain scents transport me back to very precious moments of my life. For example, the scent of pine always makes me think of my summer holidays in my grandparents’ cottage up north in Denmark. The scent of sage makes me think of visiting the island of Pantelleria in Italy—eating pasta with sage and capers. Powdery scents take me back to a hundred years ago when women wore corsets and huge gowns and floated through long, dark hallways to the distant sound of Mozart playing in the background.
Speaking of transporting, can you remember the very first fragrance you ever wore?
Christensen: It was Anais Anais by Cacharel. I still very much love that scent. I originally bought it in my teens because I thought it was the prettiest girl name ever. Then I discovered Anais Nin and thought it was even cooler. The scent is still so special. It obviously reminds me of my teenage years, but it also has this whole poetic aura about it that I will always cherish.
Are there any scents that you’ll never tire of?
Christensen: When I wear scents, it is as if I am inside a little bubble. I want it to be beautiful in that bubble and certain scents just have the ability to create that sensation. I think I will always be attracted to scents that have a historical vibe about them, such as Geoffrey Beene’s Grey Flannel, Dior’s Eau Noir and Mitzah, and Carven’s Ma Griffe.
Lastly, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to every woman about wearing fragrance?
Christensen: Don’t be afraid to experiment. Scents have the power to transport and transform you.