The Interview: Helena Christensen on Saudi Arabia

The Interview: Helena Christensen on Saudi Arabia

The Danish supermodel, photographer and programme ambassador for AlUla Creates shares travel tips and her first impressions of the Kingdom
06 April 23

‘I recently visited AlUla. There was a beautiful vibe everywhere we went, it is such a unique area. The people are so welcoming and lovely, and the town has some very interesting architecture, new and historical. The most mind-blowing visuals, the rock formation will stay with me forever. The thought that they were at the bottom of the ocean a long time ago thrills me no end. I love thinking about those giant statuesque formations covered in water with prehistoric sea creatures swimming all around them.’     

‘The spirit of the people, the warmth, the kindness has surprised me most about Saudi so far. Plus, the nature visuals are so stunning! I would tell any friends visiting Saudi to spend time amongst the rock formations in the AlUla desert under a starry-lit sky.’ 

‘I shot some quite wonderful images of Eva Herzigova while I was there that I love, a lot of them through the Maraya Concert Hall, a stunning mirrored building in the desert where we both appear. Also, I am obsessed with architecture and thoroughly enjoyed shooting the buildings in AlUla. The rock formations are so spectacular, and I took a lot of images of them at sunset.’  

‘I worked with Saudi fashion designers Alia and Abeer Oraif of Atelier Hekayat who created bespoke outfits to wear to The Oscars Vanity Fair party. I loved my Oscar dress; it was a mermaid dream in sand-coloured tulle layers with foam-like ruffles at the hem. The fact that the tulle was recycled and toned in the sand hue by being left among the desert sand is a wonderful and poetic way of creating such an epic dress.’  

‘Film AlUla's AlUla Creates initiative is a wonderful way to give so many young people the opportunity to be part of a creative and artistic programme. AlUla Creates will nurture creativity and empower future generations in film, the arts and fashion and give these young creatives a wide range of opportunities. We will attend the Cannes Film Festival in May with AlUla Creates, and London Fashion Week later in the year. The launch will be in late fall when we travel back to AlUla. It’s all very exciting and I’m looking forward to returning.’  

‘I have many favourite places, but Copenhagen will forever have a special place in my heart. The city is just the most wonderfully inspiring place to wander around. The ocean all around, the historical buildings, the incredible food, the beautiful people, the fashion, the scents… all of it makes it so exciting to experience.’ 

‘I love the restaurant at Colombe D’Or in St. Paul des Vences in France. The vegetable basket and chicken à la morilles is a meal I dream about all the time.’ 

‘I go to my Upstate cottage in New York when I want to totally switch off – it is surrounded by rivers and mountains. When in Denmark I go to the north coast to my little beach cottage and sit on the terrace gazing at the ocean and take long walks on the beach.’ 

‘A few of my favourite hotels are the Colombe d’Or in, again, St Paul des Vences, because of its wonderful history with all the painters that have gifted their art to the walls. Plus, its unique location on the mountain side by a little historical village. And L’Hotel in (St Germain) Paris – I love the architecture of this old building with the beautiful spiral stone staircase in the middle and the pool in the basement grotto. Every room is so unique. My favourite is the Oscar Wilde suite.’  

I was just in the Bahamas with my family, and it was the most wonderful vacation I’ve ever been on. We had such a great time, and the weather was perfect. I also went to Peru with my Peruvian mother many years ago and we visited so many parts of her birth country together, it was a very special trip.’ 

‘The one thing I could never travel without is my camera.’ 

‘Peru is the destination I love to go back to again and again. It is a place I could live in; I want to connect way more with my Peruvian half. I would like to live in Barranca, Lima for a while and integrate myself into the community.’ 

‘My best childhood travel memory is driving to my grandparent's summer cottage every Friday and spending the weekend there altogether. We would get on our bicycles and go to the beach nearby and spend days running around the sandy dunes and buying ice cream on our way back, or we would take walks through the meadow and pick flowers and visit the farm nearby to pet the animals.’ 

‘My all-time best travel memory is being in the Moroccan desert doing a Vogue shoot with Peter Lindbergh with a giant ghetto blaster playing ‘Night and Day’ by U2.’ 

‘I travel a lot less, to try and be eco-responsible. I try to stay in eco-friendly hotels. But mostly I just go to my places where I aim to live as sustainably as possible. Most of what I own is recycled and bought in flea markets or antique stores.’ 

All images with thanks to Helena Christensen