Christie Brinkley on business, bikinis and staying sexy in 60s

Most people who survive a near-fatal helicopter crash on an icy mountain ridge would never set foot in a chopper again. But Christie Brinkley isn’t most people.

Five years after that 1994 cliff-hanger in Colorado, which left her bruised but not broken, the supermodel boarded a Blackhawk bound for Kosovo. Once there, our intrepid cover girl entertained US troops in a saucy red dress.

When you consider her manifold careers and far-flung travels, Brinkley has always been adventurous — and, she says, lucky. “The guys who rescued us said that looking at the wreckage, there’s just no way that anybody should have made it out alive,” the 64-year-old bombshell tells Alexa during a wide-ranging interview at her sunny Tribeca penthouse. “It taught me to live each day as a gift.”

Brinkley is still challenging herself, and defying popular expectations. At an age when many women retire their two-pieces, the mother of three posed in a microscopic bikini for last year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, along with her daughters, Sailor Brinkley Cook and Alexa Ray Joel (son Jack is also a model and actor). With no background in musical theater, the siren razzle-dazzled audiences during her 2011 turn as Roxie Hart in Broadway and West End productions of “Chicago.”

She is also a partner in several product lines (ranging from her signature anti-aging skin care and radiance-enhancing makeup to Bellissima, her organic prosecco label) and supports charities such as Smile Train and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

“I love wearing lots of different hats,” says Brinkley, unleashing one of her trademark 1,000-lumen smiles. “When I was little, my dad used to tell me about a reporter who did all the things that he was writing about. I’ve approached life in that way.”
Brinkley grew up in Malibu, Calif., and moved to Paris in 1973 to study art. She was “discovered” by an American photographer in a post office and, within months, landed three ad campaigns. With her sporty, all-American looks and effervescent personality, Brinkley became a household name. The iconic blonde spent a record 25 years as the face of CoverGirl and has appeared on more than 500 magazine covers, including three consecutive Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues.

Brinkley somehow managed to avoid many pitfalls of the modeling world but has experienced #MeToo moments, beginning when she was 17. “I had a job in a planting store,” she recalls. “One day I was at the potting table, and I felt my boss’ hands come around my breasts. I was like, “Oh, sorry, excuse me!’” she singsongs, imitating her embarrassed reaction. “I was brought up to be very respectful of my elders and to be polite, and that played over in the way I responded to somebody being aggressive. My response would be to kind of giggle and move away but not be confrontational.”
Today, the longtime environmentalist, gun-control advocate and fervent animal-rights activist is gratified to see young women like Sailor (a 19-year-old model and Parsons student) standing up for themselves. “If something doesn’t feel right to her, immediately she will say, ‘Hey, are you kidding me?’ She doesn’t care about getting out of something gracefully. She’s strong.”

Brinkley also felt pressure early on to stay pin thin. “My eating-disorder phase happened immediately,” she says. “I went in and saw the girls in the agency and thought, ‘I better diet!’ I actually fainted in a ladies’ room in Paris. I said, ‘All right, well, so much for that.’”

Today, she rejects what she calls “deny-iting” in “Timeless Beauty,” her best-selling wellness book. She favors a holistic approach to health, eating rainbow vegetarian fare and mixing up yoga, fitness classes, outdoor sports and the Total Gym (she’s a longtime spokesperson for the fitness-equipment brand).
That said, she’s not opposed to keeping up her appearance with noninvasive treatments and her own cosmetics. She gets Xeomin wrinkle-smoothing injections on her forehead, skin-tightening Ultherapy on her neck and décolletage, and takes BioSil supplements (she’s the face of all three).

“My idea of aging gracefully is to be in control of which wrinkles I want and which ones I don’t,” says Brinkley, who laughs easily and has a self-deprecating wit. “I did Botox once [on my forehead] and hated it. The Xeomin feels very soft to me. Look, I can move my eyebrows!” she adds, pulling faces.

“I have big cheeks, and when I was younger, my British friends nicknamed me ‘Fat Face,’” she adds in a cockney accent. “The first thing I would say to the makeup artist is, ‘Give me cheekbones!’ and I would suck in my cheeks.” These days, she sculpts her own with four products from her line.
Brinkley boldly ignores age-related fashion dictates, rocking everything from a Saint Laurent fringed leather miniskirt to Stella McCartney’s blue lamé jumpsuit. “I think that being open-minded instead of judgmental is what it’s all about right now. If you’re in your 60s and you’ve got great legs, then follow the lead of all those great dames like Elaine Stritch, Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland and wear the suit jacket without the pants. Go ahead and flaunt what you’ve got!” (Her own gams, as many reviewers noted in her “Chicago” reviews, are stupendous.)

Brinkley’s favorite labels include Saint Laurent for day — “I wear this shirt to death,” she says, pointing to her black-and-white plaid button-down — and Victoria Beckham for the red carpet.

Soon, she’ll shop for a mother-of-the-bride dress. Alexa Ray, a 32-year-old singer and songwriter, got engaged to her longtime boyfriend, Ryan Gleason, on New Year’s Eve weekend. The restaurateur proposed with a dazzling emerald-cut diamond ring.

Brinkley drools over fine jewelry but admits to having a teenager-like tendency to lose it.
“I had a pair of diamond studs, and they went missing. Then I had them replaced, and they went missing the very day I got them back,” she groans. “I had a little diamond cross that I loved, and that went missing. I had an Ohm diamond necklace that I loved. That went missing, too!” (Against all odds, she managed not to misplace a pair of vintage fringe diamond clip earrings from ex-husband Billy Joel, which she wore — with big hair — to the Academy Awards in 1984.)
When Brinkley turned 50, her daughters finally convinced her to pierce her ears, and she treated herself to a few pairs of birthday earrings. “I went through my whole career with stylists being annoyed with me, because they’d come in with these gorgeous trays of earrings.”

Her most precious possessions include her late parents’ wedding bands. “I put the rings on a bunch of necklaces so that I had multiple clasps and there was very little risk. I’m still afraid to wear it!”
And then there’s her own bridal bling. “Of course, I’ve got a lot of wedding rings and engagement rings,” she adds wryly, referring to her former marriages to French illustrator Jean-François Allaux, pop star Joel, real estate developer Ricky Taubman and architect Peter Cook. “I’m actually thinking of getting them enlarged so I can wear them on every other finger except that one.”
Marriage is one adventure that Brinkley has no desire to repeat. “I don’t really see the point,” she says, sapphire eyes flashing. But a boyfriend would be a different story.

Gabriele" dress, $1,245 by special order at Greta Constantine; David Webb 18-k gold necklace, $38,000, and "Starlight" 18-k gold and platinum earrings with diamonds, $42,500; Pomellato "Iconica" 18-k rose-gold ring with diamonds, $4,600, and "Iconica" 18-k rose-gold ring, $3,510; Vhernier "Plisse" 18-k rose-gold cuff with diamonds, $34,950.

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