She’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle, and today, a heather-grey jersey robe. Sitting on a bright New York patio, Freja Beha Erichsen is about to pose for her debut Maybelline campaign, the sun accentuating her high cheekbones and sharp dimples. She’s one of the hottest model names right now, and Karl Lagerfeld’s muse, yet aside from her leather-clad street-style snaps, we know little of the elusive Erichsen, since she regularly refuses interview requests, much like a young Kate Moss.
The tomboyish 25-year-old agrees she’s not your typical beauty campaign girl, with her tattoos (16, including a cross on her earlobe and a pistol on her left bicep) and piercings (“just a couple in the ears,” she says, contrary to nude photos that reveal a studded nipple). “I never thought I would come across a makeup contract,” she reveals, in her low Danish-accented voice.
Growing up north of Copenhagen with lawyer parents and one older brother, Erichsen didn’t dream of modelling, despite being 5-9 by age 12. “I spent a lot of time in the forest, building little huts and jumping hills on my bike off-track,” she recalls. Then an agent spotted her in the street, through a taxi window.
Eight years on—she walked 64 shows in her first season, including Miu Miu, which she opened—it’s hard to imagine the fashion world without its “queen of cool,” as casting agent James Scully called her in New York magazine. “I was interested in writing, so I might have become a journalist,” she says. “I love the independence and ease of walking in different parts of the world alone, and exploring the culture [to find] how alike we all are.”
She’s also recently taken up painting, or as she calls it, “splashing about.” Her work stays hidden in a closet, as out of sight as her first tattoo, which sits below the belt. “Just something I drew on a piece of paper,” she says of the mystery design, while unconsciously flicking her wavy hair to reveal “float” inked on her neck—emblematic of her laid-back attitude. “Beauty doesn’t have to be the perfect image. It’s more interesting to have something a bit off.”
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