Staerk Christensen, the lifestyle line from the designer Camilla Staerk and the model/photographer Helena Christensen, was a long time coming. In fact, the seeds were planted some 20 years ago, when Christensen had just launched Nylon magazine, and was doing a story on Staerk’s debut fashion collection. The two, who both grew up in Denmark, clicked instantly on a creative level. “We both share an affinity for dark romance and Scandinavian design,” says Staerk. Since then, they have worked on a myriad array of design projects together, including a dance collection for Anthropologie, a jewelry line for Skagen, and a prefab home for Revolution Precrafted. Their latest offering—a travel wardrobe of sultry swimsuits, ornate sandals, oversized sunglasses, and multi-functional scarves, all inspired by swallows in flight—is their first project since making their partnership official last year. They celebrated its launch by hosting a tropical weekend getaway with an intimate group of friends—Carolyn Murphy, Maye Musk, Brooke Shields, Malin Akerman, and Adrien Brody, among them—to Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, in Puerto Rico, where the collection is currently sold, in addition to Staerk Christensen’s website. “It’s very exclusive,” says Christensen with a wink.
And up next for the pair? A line of furniture and soft home goods, and they just premiered a series of six short films created with the help of friends such as Sean Penn, Salman Rushdie, and Oh Land, as well. “We just wanted to do them creatively, for the heck of it,” says Christensen.
Here, their vacation tips and style notes.
Favorite holiday destination: Staerk: Dorado Beach, obviously. And La Colombe d’Or. I’ve never stayed there, but I’ve gone for lunch and it’s a dream. Christensen: I’d say the same two places. And Harbour Island. I’ve been going since I was 20 for fashion shoots. I stay at the Ocean View Club or The Landing.
Travel essentials: Staerk: I have my wardrobe, it’s always the same—these interchangeable pieces, which are what we’ve translated into our travel concept. They’re pieces that work as skirts and head wraps, bodysuits slash swimsuits. Every swimsuit can be used as a bodysuit in the evening, just pull on a tube skirt. A little blazer goes over the shoulder. And it all goes into your carry-on! Christensen: The entire Staerk & Christensen collection. A pair of sandals, a swimsuit, beautiful scarves, which you can do anything with—make into a sarong, head wrap…
Luggage of choice: Staerk: Zero Halliburton gold metal case, and soft bags from Staerk & Christensen. Christensen: A Filson green canvas suitcase. I’ve had it for 15 years and even though my dog chewed all the corners as a puppy it’s still holding up.
Packing tips: Christensen: I roll everything so it doesn’t crease. Johnny Depp taught me that. We were friends back in the day when he was dating Kate [Moss], and we would all go on holiday together. He’s the first person I ever saw meticulously roll his t-shirts. I’ve done it ever since.
Preferred plane activity: Christensen: I empty out photos from my phone. Staerk: I work. It’s the only time I’m not getting distracted by emails and phone calls.
Plane food or bring your own: Staerk: Plane food. Christensen: If it’s an airport with Shake Shack, I get that. Two burgers, fries and a milkshake. I get on the plane and I’m the happiest person there.
Drink or no: Staerk: I don’t. It really does fuck you up. Christensen: No, unless there’s turbulence. Then I drink and pray like crazy.
Beach beauty advice: Staerk: I’ve been using the same products since I remember. Jurlique face cream. MAC eyebrow pencil. Vaseline on the eyelids. And baby oil on my skin and hair.
Christensen: A good SPF. I love Nimue. It’s a South African brand and it transforms your skin. Kevin Murphy’s blonde hair shimmer. It’s a beautiful oil with shimmer that catches the sun. But just swimming in the ocean is enough for gorgeous hair because you get the salt. If I’m anywhere tropical, the last day I go in the ocean and just sit on the plane with my hair all salty. Also your skin is the thinnest on your armpits, so you have to tan with your armpits up to get the most Vitamin D. This is a fact! We’re all depleted of Vitamin D and depressed.
Beach styling tips: Staerk: It’s good to have a wrap. You can go straight to lunch after, and you don’t feel naked. Christensen: The less the better.
Beach no-no: Christensen: Unless it’s a nude beach… nudity. Topless is beautiful, but I don’t want to look up someone’s butt on the beach. And no thongs unless you’re at Copacabana. There, they all have amazing butts.
Vacation read: Staerk: I like biographies. Christensen: I’m reading a Lucian Freud biography. It’s called “Breakfast with Lucian,” so I only read it as breakfast.
Dream destination: Staerk: India. Christensen: Vietnam.