My Beauty Icon: Freja

Freja 2

After years of feeling above it, writer Hadley Freeman finally has a supermodel crush. And she’s a Danish badass with birds’ nest hair


When I was a teenager, I never gave a whisker of a thought to models. Later, when I became a fashion writer and spent 14 weeks a year at fashion shows, I still didn’t really give much of a fig. While my colleagues all seemed to be on first-name terms with the models – “Ooh, Anja’s dyed her hair this season!”, “Have you seen Iris’ new fringe? Amaze!”, “Oh dear, Magda’s gone a bit anorexic.” –  I could barely tell the difference between Daria and Karlie. I’m sure models are lovely people (well, some of them), but they just never interested me. It was one of the many differences between me and Carrie Bradshaw: “I just love models!” gushed the fictional 35-year-old columnist. “I honestly barely notice them,” shrugged the non-fictional 35-year-old columnist.


I really never understood that female obsession with models: to my cynical mind, it seemed a little bit like a legitimate way of indulging one’s lesbian tendencies without actually admitting any homosexual stirrings. In other words, it just seemed a bit immature.


But then I saw Freja Beha Erichsen.


I first spotted her at a Balenciaga show five or six years ago and it really was love at first sight. Ever since, I have bought any magazine on which she’s the cover girl and studied her outfits with the myopic obsession of a 13-year-old fashion blogger. If I had the money, I’d probably buy clothes from every label that she advertises.


Getting the obvious stuff out of the way, she’s gorgeous, clearly. I love her fabulous chestnut hair, her fringe, her scowl and her big ol’ Danish smile. I love her heavy eyeliner (so Winona in Girl, Interrupted) and I really love how she doesn’t seem to give a toss about fashion. I’ve seen and interviewed models who many would say are far more gorgeous – they never had me sifting through magazines hoping to find a fashion shoot with them, the way I do for Freja.


The difference, I’m ashamed to admit, is that Freja looks like a fantasy version of me, of how I like to think I could look if I just had better hair, better make up. (As discussed in my previous post on Winona Ryder, I only ever think women who are prettier versions of me are attractive. I don’t know if this is a reflection of narcissism or self-loathing.)


Freja 3But there’s more than looks here. I adore her bolshy, boyish style, which is completely different from mine, and which I always wish I could pull off if I weren’t too girly (groan) and too busty (double groan.) Normally I can’t bear those fashion blogs that run endless photos of models leaving shows because (a) who cares and (b) urgh, stop with the embarrassing fandom! But I do love those photos of Freja, because you can really see her attitude.


When magazines make her look all girly or, worse, put her in horrible weird clothes  so you can’t see that attitude, it totally misses the point of her. My favourite shoots are when the clothes approximate her style, such as Yves Saint Laurent’s current campaign; shoots in which her hair is all messy and juxtaposed with mussed up party clothes; when she’s wearing simple but ever so slightly strange clothes, like this ace UK Vogue shoot: or, best of all, when she just looks most like herself.


Freja has been commendably discreet about her private life. In one Vogue interview the poor journalist could barely get her to confirm her name. But the rumours that have leaked out just make me like her more. I love the idea of her breaking loads of models’ hearts, I love the idea of her in a relationship with sweet faced Arizona Muse, and I love the idea of her just living her own damn life, not spending her evenings glitzing it up at Soho House.


When I was at school, I had crushes on the girls in the years above. I didn’t want to kiss them or anything like that – I just wanted to be them. I chose the girls who sort of looked a bit like me but seemed so much more confident than I ever felt. Twenty years later, I seem to be doing the same, the difference is this time she’s nine years younger than me and a model. So much for maturity. Carrie Bradshaw, I finally get it.

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