Villager photo by Elissa Bogos
Leif Sigersen and Helena Christensen at Butik, their Hudson St. shop
Supermodel’s new boutique offers a taste of Danish
BY MARCUS O. CARLSON
The supermodel was already one of his best customers in the early ’90s back home in Copenhagen. After they spontaneously became friends in his shop at first meeting, Helena Christensen invited her fellow Dane Leif Sigersen to visit her in her new West Village home base. Sigersen fell in love with the area that evoked images of his most treasured parts of the Danish capital.
As he started making more frequent visits, an idea grew to open a piece of Copenhagen in New York. They both agreed it would have to be somewhere in the West Village. A few years and a real estate agent later, their dream location came true. Butik, at 605 Hudson St. on the west side of Abingdon Square, opened last year as the fruit of their friendship-turned-business partnership.
As co-owners of a fashion design and vintage interior decorating shop, they have one major advantage.
“We fall for the same things,” said Sigersen in an interview while on duty as shop manager. He hastened to point out that every item in Butik is personally chosen by Christensen and him. “We often find things we like while we’re traveling, and then there are the two Copenhagen fashion weeks.”
Italian and French media were among the first to report on Butik when it opened last year. English and French Vogue have also featured the shop, as have quite a few Japanese magazines.
“Helena is, for some reason, especially huge in Japan,” noted Sigersen.
Helena Christensen’s arresting looks of mixed Danish-Peruvian parentage might still be associated with her performance in Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” video of 1991. But Christensen is still a household name in the high-end magazines. And after embarking on a new career as a photographer, she is now also busy developing a new fashion label in cooperation with Sigersen. This summer, the duo’s efforts went on debut display at Butik, which is the Danish spelling of “boutique” with a wider meaning of “anything shop.”
Sigersen explained that their joint label would soon be launched internationally. The role of their charming Hudson St. location will be that of a showroom, or a “future flagship store for the label.” No matter what happens in the future, he is intent on staying in the West Village, which is also where Sigersen and Christensen reside, even as they spend a lot of time in Copenhagen. Additional salespeople will be flown in from Denmark, “because our goal is to maintain an all-Danish shop here in the Village,” Sigerson noted.
To be what Sigersen calls “super-personal” is the essence of Butik. Here you can find anything from sturdy-looking Midwestern vintage wallets to a romantic 19th-century “wedding” dresser from the Swedish province of Smolandia. High up on the wall, there are some odd-looking baskets carefully hung as if they were objects of art.
“They are taken from a Danish apple farm, made for apple picking,” explained Sigersen.
On the hangers, Sigersen has arranged children’s wear side by side with emerging designers’ catwalk lines. Nordic fashion’s presence is particularly strong with a selection of trendy apparel, such as Amsterdam-based Swedish designer Rika and Ivana Helsinki - Homemade in Finland.
“As far as I know, we’re the only one in New sYork representing them,” said Sigersen. And customers are finding out where Butik is located, mostly by word of mouth.
“Many locals come in, but also a lot from Midtown and Uptown,” he said. So does the occasional shopping tourist from Scandinavia, where Butik has been widely featured in the news media.
But for Sigersen, who has a background as a florist and interior decorator, it is important to be true to the original idea as well as the locality. Nearby Bleecker St., the flourishing fashion strip, is inspirational to Sigersen.
“I love what’s happened on the western end of this classic Village street,” he said. “The Ralph Lauren shop there is my favorite showroom anywhere.”