Renée Toft Simonsen (born 12 May 1965) is a former model from Denmark, who currently works as a writer. Simonsen was one of the most successful models in the world during the 1980s.
Renée was born in Aarhus, Denmark, where she worked as a supermarket cashier before she was discovered.
In 1981 she caught the attention of fashion editor Birte Strandgaard, who convinced photographer Leif Nygaard to take some photos. Simonsen subsequently participated in the Ekstra Bladet Contest and won 2nd place. In July 1981 she appeared on the cover of the Danish magazine Fotokino.
The following year she won the Ekstra Bladet Contest, and was chosen to represent Denmark at the Supermodel of the World contest, which she won in August 1982. In December 1982 she appeared in the American edition of Vogue.
From 1983 on she became one of the quickest rising stars of the international modeling world, being featured on the covers of numerous international fashion magazines. She was the cover girl for the German Vogue in March, April and September.
In 1983 she was featured on the cover of Roxy Music’s Atlantic Years album.
From 1985-1989 she dated bass player John Taylor of the British band Duran Duran to whom she was engaged. That same year, she debuted as an actress in Carlo Vanzina’s Sotto il vestito niente, playing a psychopathic murderer. In 1987, she worked again with Vanzina on the comedy Via Montenapoleone.
In 1988 she decided to take a break from fashion. After breaking up with Taylor in 1989, she lived for 3 months in a kibbutz in Israel with her sister Heidi. Despite an offer to audition for the role of a Bond Girl in one the upcoming James Bond films, the following year Simonsen ended her modeling career and returned to Denmark to study journalism. After failing the qualifying examination she began to study psychology instead.
From 1991 on she again worked as model for Vichy cosmetics. In 1993 Simonsen became the face of Biotherm cosmetics.
She has two children from a relationship with Kristian Sandvad: Ulrikke, born in 1993, and Jens-Kristian, born in 1995.
In 1997 she worked as a fashion editor for the Danish magazine Asschenfeldts Magasin, which was however stopped after a few issues. In the summer she started a relationship with Danish rock singer Thomas Helmig, whom she married in August 2000.
In 2002 she completed her degree in psychology. In 2003 Simonsen signed a contract to the French cosmetic company Clarins and began appearing in magazine advertisements for mature skincare products.
In October 2003 she published her first children’s book, entitled Karlas kabale. In 2006 her children’s book Anthony Greenwood was nominated for the Danish book-prize “Orla” and she was awarded with “The Most Dynamic Women” award by cosmetic company Clarins for her social engagement at Plan Denmark.
Her book Karlas kabale was adapted into a movie and premiered in November 2007.
In August 2007 she published her first novel Tirsdag formiddag.
In February 2009 the movie adaptation of her second children’s book Karla og Katrine was released in Denmark.
In 2010 she started writing for the newspaper Information.
In February 2010 her book Dømt til frihed was published.
In February 2011 she won the Ecco Walk In Style award.