Erin O'Connor, Closets
Erin O'Connor

Samuel Beckett once said that "words are the clothing of thoughts," which, for me, makes the sharply defined simplicity of Erin's style a crystal clear reflection of her self-assertive core. At 6'1, getting discovered as a model in the 90s for Erin came as a shock after an adolescence of feeling like she took up too much space. However, her rise to model super stardom, and the occasional peripheral insult to her appearance, found her unapologetic about who she naturally was. A pivotal moment of self- discovery came when a hairdresser in LA told Erin that she needed a breast enlargement in order to succeed in the business. "I wasn’t ready for someone to impose their ligations on me.  I didn’t want my boundaries infringed upon before I started working on myself," was her response.

Despite the fact that the size of her boobs and nose were constantly questioned within the generic status quo of the fashion industry (she was once used in a fashion editorial as the example of what a plastic surgeon should do to her face to make it "right"), Erin utilized what she describes as her "extreme" looks as a tool for interpreting designers and their clothes in a way that only someone as extraordinary as her could. On her, a Dries Van Noten slip dress exudes force, not to mention the sex appeal of  what she refers to as her "back cleavage." Erin turned her supposed imperfections into a vehicle for attitude and conviction. She played a plethora of parts as a model, from a man to a dead person to someone from a bygone era, bringing much needed personality and authenticity to the garments.

Getting her looks pulled apart only enforced Erin's appreciation of our differences. "They are the only things we have in common," she states. "A clever fashion industry should promote that." You can’t belittle your audience no matter what walk of life, Erin feels. It's not about retouching: it's about who you are. Erin is someone who founded Model Sancutary in 2007, a house where models can go for help, advice, comfort. "Sometimes, very quietly and graciously," says Erin, "you can inspire other people by showing them that there's a different way and many perceptions of beauty. You may not be feeling it inside, but if you display it like you mean it, then it can give permission to be kind to ourselves and embrace our individuality."

-- Elisa Goodkind

Video Edited by Armand Michael.

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Dispelling Beauty Myths