BURBANK, Calif. — Weathering bad fashion moments can be tough, but having to do it under the glare of paparazzi flashbulbs is worse. Just ask Erika Christensen, who remembers her share of public fashion blunders after becoming a Hollywood ingenue five years ago with her breakout role in “Traffic.”

Now the starlet is finally beginning to find her fashion groove — and not a moment too soon.

“When I first started going on the red carpet, I wore a lot of Armani, but I didn’t really have my own style apart from that. I think I was just lazy,” says Christensen, 23, who costars in the current hit “Flight Plan,” with Jodie Foster, and begins filming the drama “Gardener of Eden” next month in New York opposite Lukas Haas. “I went through this rebel period where I didn’t want to dress up.”

But thanks to her stylish roommate, Satine boutique co-owner Sophia Banks, and a recent visit to New York Fashion Week, Christensen is embracing her sartorial side. For lunch at a small Burbank cafe, she dressed in cropped jeans, a vintage vest and Balenciaga flats. “Sophia and I both have these shoes. We’re obsessed with them,” she says. Of course, that hasn’t stopped her from raiding her roommate’s closet for other pieces, such as a Scanlon & Theodore cardigan she deems “incredible.”

Christensen isn’t shy about proclaiming things she likes. “I was at the Oscar de la Renta show, and while everyone was whispering about this gown or that dress, I couldn’t help blurting out, ‘Wow!’ really loud, because I was so blown away.”

She also attended Narciso Rodriguez and Roland Mouret, for whom she hosted a party. “I love his clothes because he cuts for a woman’s body. I’m not straight up and down. I have curves.”

Indeed, Christensen is one of the few young actresses working today who doesn’t appear painfully thin, something she attributes to reading nutrition books and working out. “I know lots of people who eat raw, vegetarian or vegan. I’m not into any of those things. I believe in eating enough so your body will actually run,” she says, biting into a goat cheese and spinach sandwich. “People look their most beautiful when they’re healthy.” She then pops a handful of vitamins, which she washes down with plenty of tea.

This story first appeared in the October 3, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Christensen got her start in the business after making her debut at 13 in a “Leave It to Beaver” remake, following it up with “Traffic” three years later. She then starred in a string of high school dramas, which she finds amusing because she was home-schooled herself. “Gardener of Eden,” directed by “Entourage” star Kevin Connolly and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, is a love story of sorts, in which she plays a woman who becomes involved with a “Taxi Driver”-type vigilante, played by Haas. “I think it’ll be really good,” she says, “and I’m looking forward to making new friends. I also can’t wait to wear scarves and sweaters in New York!”

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