Supermodel Erin O’Connor:
'In fashion you need more than just beauty or prettiness'
She’s one of the most iconic models of her generation and now Erin O’Connor is on the hunt for the supers of the future on Sky Living’s new reality show. Here she tells Judith Woods why she’ll be looking for spirit and charisma rather than physical perfection
Pah! Everybody knows that catwalk beauties are a highly strung, high-maintenance nightmare, what with the pouty hair-tossing and the insistence on vintage Krug and the whole ‘mwah! mwah!’ air-kissing thing. Why, I expect Erin O’Connor will pitch up any moment with a haughty expression and an entire entourage of…
Oh, but here she is, with a cup of herbal tea, a streaming cold and a beaming smile. No lackeys, no attitude, no demands apart from a polite enquiry about tissues. In fact, you’d barely know she was a model, were it not for the fact she’s tall and as slender as the Shard (and twice as striking) with a strong nose and magnificent dark brows that would knock Cara Delevingne’s baby caterpillars into touch. ‘When I was growing up I used to pray that I would be blessed in the boob department, but instead it was my nose that just kept on growing,’ quips Erin coolly, a wry smile on her lips. ‘I think Cara is great; she’s got the whole “ultimate Brit model” buzz around her and it’s great to see anotherEYEBROW diva out there.’
I had intended to ask the former Marks & Spencer cover girl what her unique selling point was, but I can see for myself – as she folds her 6ft Modigliani frame into a chair, there’s something sculptural, something immensely watchable about her. Her face radiates intelligence, every line of her body is sleek, every angle just so, the fluid tilt to her head, the upward sweep of her thick hair.
The Walsall-born model, who has strong Celtic links – and, indeed, looks – thanks to her Irish father, seems to have been around for ever, but is still only 35. By this watershed age, many of her peers have quietly retired or gone on to pursue other projects, but this A-lister, whom Karl Lagerfeld has described as ‘one of the best models in the world’, remains at the top of her game.
So much so that Erin is one of the judges on The Face, Sky Living’sNEW search-for-a-model show, which also stars Naomi Campbell on the panel. The third judge is Swedish model Caroline Winberg, making for a canny triumvirate: high-fashion Naomi, 43, street-fashion Caroline, 28, and if Erin isn’t exactly anti-fashion, then certainly she brings an offbeat, highly individualistic dimension to the proceedings.
‘To have a successful, lasting career in this industry you need more than just beauty or prettiness,’ says Erin, who was told on several occasions she needed rhinoplasty, but, having longed to get a nose job as a child, rejected the idea as an adult. ‘A girl must have an indefinable magic, real character, a strong sense of self. Her role is to respond to the brief of aPHOTOGRAPHER or communicate the vision of a designer – while making whatever she does look utterly effortless and whatever she wears utterly seamless. I’m not on the search for physical perfection, I want to see spirit and charisma; fire and force.’