Christine Sofie Johansen is our December 2018 Model of the Month.
Growing up in Denmark, in the country next to a large nature reserve, she never thought of modeling as a goal in life but gave it a shot. While she was scouted at 14 y/o by an agency there she didn’t start modelling her 'true' size until 4 years ago.
Extremely comfortable in her skin, Johansen is a natural size i.e. a category of intermediate models, neither too thin nor too large. She has been sounding off on the importance of representing her body type in the fashion industry and has been fighting for that size to be accepted too.
The Danish beauty moved to New York two years ago and has been in campaigns for Benetton, Violeta by Mango Target, Calvin Klein and Zara. Johansen is also passionate about interior design and runs a small design business, Wild Horses Studio, together with her fianc and they design creative spaces and custom furniture.
Striking, glamorous, one-of-a-kind beauty, Johansen has the right combination of personality and looks. Apart from her extraordinary beauty, her wit, intelligence, humour and confidence is what sets her apart and has won her fans and top clients.
Learn a little bit about this Danish beauty in this month’s inspiring interview below. Later, check out her profile on FMD
How did you get to be where you are? How did your modeling career start?
I was scouted when I was around 14 y/o but didn’t start modelling my “true” size until 4 years ago. My fiancé gave me the courage to tell my agency that I wanted a fresh start in NYC as my regular size. I never felt more comfortable in my own skin after that and my career never better!
Did you always want to be a model? Who or what inspired you to become a model?
It all sort of just happened slowly up through my teenage years. I never thought of it as a goal in life. I was just a girl, busy with school and my horses. But I’m happy I gave it a shot!
What was your first big break in the industry?
I’m so lucky to have worked with many talented people and brands that support the body diversity image. But Shooting Calvin Klein Underwear must have been my first big breakthrough.
Is the fashion world what you expected it to be?
Since I started out so young and had no idea what world I entered, I can’t really claim I had expectations. But growing up in the industry has definitely taught me a lot about my own values and who I want to be as a person. Also, about standing up for my own beliefs and following my gut!
What do you think are the main challenges in modeling today?
I think we still have a way to go regarding diversity both shape, size and color. But we are moving forward. And I see changes. But not yet enough. I think the runway is still dictating the industry too much and if we saw my body diversity there we would see it in the bigger campaigns too.
What is your favorite or most exciting aspect about being a model? What do you like least?
I love the exploring of new places and foreign countries my work takes me, and the variety in wonderful passionate people I meet, but at the same time being away from family and friends for so long is the hardest part. And airport ques and delays!
What do you believe is the key to success for a model? What qualities does one need to succeed?
Determination, the will to travel and be alone – a lot – and most important of all. Treat everybody you come across on your path with the same kindness and respect. We are all equals.
What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
I’ve been fortunate to work with many talented and creative passionate minds thus far. They all contribute to highlight my career in different ways. I recently shot Vogue Italia with Craig Mc Dean and an amazing team! Being portraited as the woman I am in one of fashion history’s biggest magazines was a great experience. I also have a cover coming out for Danish fashion mag Costume which was shot when I am 20 weeks pregnant.
What was one of your favorite past projects?
The cover and feature I just did for Costume Magazine is also a colab with Danish designer Mads Norregard. A “GIRLS” sweater was made to put focus on and support PLAN children foundation. An organization that sponsor children in Africa, Asia and Latin America and help them fight for their rights such as, more girls in school, no child molesting and no children marriages. It’s about giving hope to kids in exposed areas who might not have a parent to stand up for them. You can support the children and help them to a better life here https://planbornefonden.dk
You can also by the shirt from next week in selected stores and support the cause.
What is your dream shoot?
I would love to be the face (body) in a beauty related campaign. We don’t see enough body diversity there!
There's not a lot of models your size, and you've been fighting for that size to be accepted too in the fashion industry. What indications have you seen, if any, that the industry might be moving towards a healthier look in models?
The last 4 years has been a ride. When I Moved to New York, I felt like I was one of the only ones in this “in between” size category. I sometimes had to carry a fatsuit with me to fit the clothes on the jobs or clients would expect me to be a lot bigger than I actually was. I stood my ground and said that I didn’t want to gain weight either – like I didn’t want to lose it before. Slowly the clients started to make room for my size as well. J Crew and Anthropologie has been regular clients of mine the last year. But getting to do bigger campaigns for Mango, Zara and Calvin Klein and also shooting for Harper’s Bazaar, LUI, Playboy, Vogue among other fashion magazines has definitely paved the way. Now I see colleagues of mine doing fashion week around the world and starring in major campaigns and shooting covers and beauty campaigns. But we still have a long way to go.
The modeling industry has a strange relationship to what it deems “in-between sizes,” What do you think needs to be done for a wider acceptance?
I think if we saw body diversity on the catwalk and in the magazines, we would also see it more in the bigger campaigns and beauty contracts. I just saw a Dolce and Gabbana booked an “in between girl” for the recent show, which was huge. We need more of that to be a common fact.
Many of your fans are young girls. What advice do you have for young girls who are struggling with self-esteem?
Focus on things you love about yourself and highlight that! Stop comparing yourself with others but look for inspirations and use that as an addition to your own personality instead
You've been emphasizing that you don't like putting a label on the body type. Can you expand on that?
I don’t believe in labelling people. You simply can’t. The industry tends to put people in categories which is wrong. We are all different and unique in every aspect and no one can be compared to one another. It’s time that we stopped labeling each other.
Out of all the places your career has taken you, where was the most memorable?
I’ve been so fortunate to travel to spectacular destinations with amazing people. Puerto Rico, Cape Town and Australia are among the most memorable. Then I always love a few days of work in Barcelona, Paris or LA. Some of my favorite cities to visit and places to work.
How do you deal with all the traveling required to be a model? How do you cure jet-lag?
There is no real cure for jet-lag and everybody is different and what might work for me might feel different for you. I always make sure to stay hydrated during the long-haul flights and sleep as much as possible. I bring a good neck pillow and an eye mask (the ones from Holistic Silk with lavender has a calming effect on puffy eyes.) When flying to the US from Europe I always try to catch the latest flight out which means I will arrive late evening in NY and just go straight to bed when I get home. Then I almost for sure awake up on NYC time.
How would you describe yourself as model in three words?
Focused, friendly and happy.
Give us 1 fact about you people may not know.
I never color my hair!
Are you a morning person or night person?
I love getting an early start at the day – But I just as much enjoy chatting over wine in the late hours.
How do you stay in shape?
What is written below. Besides I take vitamins and try to go to sleep before 11pm every night (with exceptions off course ?) Stay happy.
What is your favorite form of exercise?
I love being active outdoors and go for long walks in the woods or by the sea. I always enjoy a bike ride around the city of Copenhagen when the sun is shining come spring or fall. Swimming in the ocean during the summer and yoga during winter.
What’s your beauty regime? Any beauty / skin care tips or tricks to look fresh and rested for early morning photo shoots?
If I have an extremely early call time I always bring a cold sheet facemask to calm down the puffiness in my face and drink loads of water the day before.
Name your five essential items you wouldn't leave the house without?
Phone, papaw lip balm, Chanel coco rouge lipstick, keys and sunglasses!
What’s the 1 outfit that makes you feel sexy and confident?
Jeans that has the perfect fit and the perfect white tee – then style with amazing shoes and sunnies. That always works.
What things in your wardrobe would you never throw away?
A rainbow Valentino bag given to me as a Christmas present by my fiancé the first year we spent Christmas as a couple.
What's the best Style advice you've ever received?
Always dress accordingly to what your gut tells you – accessorize and then look in the mirror and remove 1 item before leaving the house!
What is your favorite snack?
Watermelon and salty brazil nuts, Danish apples from Fejø with cinnamon, salt and vinegar chips, dark chocolate with sea salt and caramel.
If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?
Is there a model's career that you admire and why?
Not in particular. I’m grateful for my place in the industry and try to focus on being thankful for the life I have been given and not focus on what other people have that I don’t.
Do you have a mentor? Who? What is it about them that you admire and why?
No, I don’t believe in idolizing people I don’t know personally. I take inspiration in friends and people who are close to me.
Do you ever get shy in front of the camera?
I’m not a shy person in general – and I feel at home in front of the camera.
If you had to wear only one designer, who would it be?
Oooh that is tough. Right now, I guess it would be old Céline by Phoebe, since the brand is so radically changing after she left! Or Missoni, there is always plenty styles to choose from each collection.
When you're not busy modeling, what are some of your favorite things to do?
Right now, I am busy with construction at our country home north of Copenhagen. Its and old house from the 70’s and we are doing everything ourselves, so there is plenty to be done! I like to be outdoors, go to the sea side for long walks and invite friends over for homecooked dinners.
What are your favorite hangout spots in your hometown? Do you have any travel tips for those visiting Copenhagen?
Beau Marché Café and Les Voyageurs - A French café owned by our dear friends 3 sisters and 1 brother. It’s a perfect mix of French light bistro, crement and interior. You always run into someone familiar and in the summer, they have outdoor serving at one of the best spots in all of Copenhagen.
I go to Mangia for Italian food and Den Vandrette to hang out with friends and have a glass of natural wine! Hotel Sanders for a casual dinner (which is also a lovely boutique hotel) but most of all I most recommend a trip north of Copenhagen to the countryside where we have our summerhouse. Rent a car and stop by Louisiana Museum and continue north to Tisvilde and go explore!
How would you describe your use of social media?
I use it as a tool in my work.
What are your views on social media? Do you think it is a good way to control your image? How important is being authentic online?
It’s a great tool to express yourself and share your thoughts and views. And connect creatively. But I think it’s important to be as authentic as one can be for the generations to come. Stay true to yourself and what you post. I will try to show my children that there still is a world outside social media and the sunset, or the night sky will always be more breathtaking through your own eyes than seen through the lense on your phone.
If you weren't modelling, which career would you pursue and why?
It’s hard to tell what would have happened if had never pursued my modelling career. In the near future I will start doing design and graphics. But it’s not the right time just yet.
If you could go back in time and give your 16-year-old self some advice what would it be?
Relax, everything will turn out fine. And the problems that seems to fill you up right now won’t matter as much in the near future.
What are you working on now and what do you dream of happening in the future?
Since I’m 25 weeks pregnant atm. I’m taking some time off in my country home in the northern part of Zealand. Finish up some construction together with my fiancé before the baby comes. Taking time to indulge in home cooking and the final outdoor projects before the weather gets too cold. I can’t wait to meet our girl and become a family of three and watch her grow.
What is your life motto? Is there a quote or mantra you live by?
Always treat others like you would like them to treat you. Way more people should live by this.
Thank you Christine Sofie Johansen for this amazing interview!
note: all answers are original and unaltered - Interview & Text by: Clinton Gonsalvez - Special Thanks to Patrick Lazhar @ Model Management (Hamburg, Germany).