INTRODUCING THE DARK ROMANCE TRAVEL COLLECTION
Vogue.com, April 18, 2019
Depending on your Instagram habits, you might have noticed the likes of Adrien Brody, Georgina Chapman, Carolyn Murphy, Waris Ahluwalia, Maye Musk, Brooke Shields, and more on the beaches of Puerto Rico this past weekend. Though it was a photogenic cast of characters befitting that of a Wes Anderson flick, the reason for the gathering was not a shoot (though many pictures and an impromptu music video on the beach did happen), but the launch of Stærk and Christensen’s resort line.
Sitting side-by-side on a banquette at a restaurant in New York City, Christensen, the model and photographer, and Stærk, the designer, are discussing a new jewelry collection, inspired by swallows, that they’ve created for Skagen. They use the terms for cozy and sweet to describe their fellow Danes, but the women, friends and collaborators for 15 years, are their own best example.
In conversation, Christensen and Stærk are clearly very connected. As Christensen talks, she looks to Stærk and they break into Danish, seeming to share the same ideas spontaneously. When Stærk adds a thought, it is as if the same person is completing the sentence. With their dark hair, high cheekbones and movements that echo each other, they could be sisters. They are completely at ease. “We’ve never disagreed about anything,” adds Christensen. “Anything Camilla suggests, I immediately am on board."
For the unfamiliar, Stærk and Christensen is a creative partnership started in 2015 by the Danish duo Camilla Stærk and Helena Christensen. The accomplished pair share a nationality and boundless creative energy, which has earned them each multi-hyphenate-status. Between the two: fashion designer, film director, photographer, supermodel, Nylon magazine cofounder, et cetera.
A surprising mix of jewelry (wispy gold cuffs that evoke floral filaments) and architecture (slick, can’t-believe-they’re-prefabricated homes) falls beneath the Stærk and Christensen umbrella of offerings. So why not design swimwear next? And swimwear in colors you wouldn’t normally associate with fun in the sun: black, deep purple, oxblood. “We are always inspired by film noir,” said Stærk, explaining that their approach to the design of the resort collection was no different than anything else they do. “The Stærk and Christensen universe is something all-encompassing. . .we wanted the wearer of our resort collection to feel the same inspiration as the person living in one of our prefab houses [designed in collaboration with Revolution Preceded].”
The result is a line for the beach-bound femme fatale: slinky one pieces with plunging necklines, high-coverage suits somehow sexier than their skimpier counterparts, and sarongs to be worn every which way. “All our swimsuits can be used as bodysuits and our silk wraps can be worn as a sarong by day or a turban by night,” said Stærk. Over the course of the celebratory weekend, Stærk proved that she and Christensen really are their own best models, donning pieces from their new collection while taking in the Puerto Rican sun from a plumb stretch of sand at the Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.
“I visited Dorado Beach last year for the first time and fell in love with the magic of Puerto Rico,” said Christensen. “I witnessed some of the immense recovery that has been undertaken in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. It was incredibly humbling to see how hard they have worked to bring their island back to its original splendor. . .Camilla and I were inspired to do something to help in the recovery movement, even in our small way, bringing recognition back to Puerto Rico and its people.”
For the purpose of this weekend, bringing attention back to the island meant bringing together a boisterous crowd of models, actors, photographers, and editors—a hodgepodge of mostly New Yorkers, with Australia well-represented—to the beach for a rum-soaked and sun-dappled weekend. Not everyone knew each other, but everyone certainly knew how to have a good time.
Friday night saw a welcome sushi dinner that lasted into the wee hours of the night. Saturday morning, many started their day with a swim, Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann opted for a bike ride around the property, and some just slept in. Lunch was served alfresco and family-style; burrata, Bass filets, and Niçoise salads were passed around the tables, as were bottles of rosé and sunscreen—Maye Musk and Samantha Barry were appropriately covered up. “Now that I’m a supermodel, I’ve got to cover up!” joked Musk. Meanwhile, the sun-worshipping model Alina Baikova took serious her self-appointed task to return to Manhattan several shades darker.
Lunch was followed by a trunk show, where curious hotel guests were lured by the collection—or perhaps it was all the bathing suit models? Before everyone knew it, it was dinner time, with a cocktail hour hosted at the Dorado’s sprawling villa dubbed Su Casa. It was drizzling, but no one noticed the rain after a cocktail or two. Dinner came and went, and wine glasses seemed magically replenished as everyone dined on steaks or the catch of the day. The group then migrated to the cocktail bar for more conversation and an after-party.
A carte-blanche itinerary on Sunday meant that guests lazily made their way to the beach, wandering the Dorado’s winding paths lush with orchids, bromeliads, and local flora. Set on 1,200 acres of a nature preserve (the property was meticulously and lovingly restored after much of the grounds were ravaged by the hurricane), the hotel feels a bit like a botanical garden with five-star extracurricular activities—bike trails, a water park, multiple pools, and a spa that would impress even the most jaded of spa-goers. There, a garden is organized in a neat geometric pattern that evokes a formal French garden, only in lieu of box hedges, tiny pink pineapples grow from spiky fronds; serpentine paths are shaded and fragranced by rose apple fruit trees, and guests are offered sarongs instead of terrycloth robes.
Most spent their final hours at the spa before a procession of goodbyes ensued. All the farewells were null and void when everyone found themselves bumping into each other at the airport, and then happily together once more at baggage claim at their final destinations. Soon, most of the crowd will reconvene for Stærk and Christensen’s next venture: a series of short films to be screened at The National Arts Club later this month. What will these two ladies dream up next?
By Lilah Ramzi for Vogue