Michael Kors 2016
It’s been nearly two decades since Erin O’Connor first brought her brand of aristocratic elegance to Michael Kors’s catwalk, and although she’s semiretired from the runway and resurfaces only for special projects—the opening spot at Marc Jacobs’s Diana Vreeland–themed show, for example—O’Connor flew in from London just for Kors. We caught up with the catwalk vet preshow to hear about how Kors’s perspective has affected her own, and how being a model mommakes her appreciate fashion even more.
You’ve been walking for Michael since the ’90s: What was it like the very first time you worked with him?
I’ve walked all over the world for Michael—wherever he goes, I follow. It was really significant the first time I walked for Michael. He epitomizes glamour, and he always does it in a very current, modern way. As a young model already possessing an image that was considered a bit offbeat, it was lovely to be put in that arena and feel like a grown-up woman on the runway. I think he enjoyed the transformation as much as I did.
What’s the best part of working with Michael?
He has a hilarious sense of humor. He’s witty, he tells it like it is, and I do think he enjoys a giggle with an English girl—I like to oblige. He was in London very recently and he invited me to dinner and that was a great reunion.
I hear Michael before I see him—it’s that laugh and the rapport he has with whomever he’s talking with. With his collections, the result always goes back to the women: It’s an attitude and a feeling that he’s able to give the women who wear his clothes. Who doesn’t want to dress up and bring a bit of that into their lives? It’s a great feeling, especially for me, since most of the clothes I wear now are waterproof. My 14-month-old knows no boundaries! Twenty-four hours in New York with Michael is heaven. I’ll enjoy it and love it and then I’ll get on a flight home!
Michael Kors Collection, Spring 2002 Ready-to-Wear
Last season you came back to open Marc Jacobs, and this season you’re back for Kors—do you only return for special projects?
Yes, I think so. They’re all very meaningful to me. This season Kors is the only show I’m doing, and I flew in just for Michael. He’s very precise, so when he requested me, I knew that it would be something special.
What have you been up to since your previous runway return?
I’ve had a nice summer. I took my 14-month-old son, Albert, away for the first time. I was lucky enough to work for Steven Meisel again and land the cover of Italian Vogue, which was a treat. I worked with Katie Grand on a story for Love,as well, so I’ve kept busy. It’s been lovely.
It seems like you’ve found the right balance between personal and professional life.
The two inform each other. I’m learning a lot. What I realize and appreciate most is that both are vital in my life—Albert first and foremost. When I’m away from him, I enjoy work so much more, knowing that I get to go home to him. There’s no other way to describe it: The thought of his joyful, chubby little face greeting me at the door when I return keeps me going. Motherhood promotes a different perspective on life, even confidence-wise. Perhaps what I wouldn’t be able to do for myself, I do for him. Since he came into my life, I think I’ve been able to push myself a little bit further for an industry that I love.
Watch the Michael Kors Spring 2016 ready-to-wear fashion show: