Amongst the crowded foyer of the 2013 Vogue Festival a tall, thin woman floats through the crowds with swan-like grace, dressed to head to toe in Louis Vuitton. It’s Erin O’Connor and she stands out from the rest of the ‘fash-pack’ with a beady-eyed stare, it’s clear she has bigger things on her agenda other than today’s labels. I was lucky enough to have a quick chat with her about the biggest debate in fashion: What is too fat or too thin and how does this affect models within the industry?
“Models are people too and they should not scrutinised for being ‘in’ or ‘out'”
The rise of digital fashion and news has allowed for more widespread opinions within the industry to be debated over. With the rapid spread of social media outlets, criticism within the industry and the power to completely alter the appearance of someone has created a warped vision of the female body within the fashion world. When I asked O’Connor about her modelling days and the excitement of it all, she was quick to alert me of her similarity to myself, “Models are people too and they should not scrutinised for being ‘in’ or ‘out'”. Astonishingly, I agree with her. There doesn’t need to be a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ look about a person, surely it’s all personal taste with fashion, but when dealing with the body this is something that should be celebrated and not altered or air-brushed. People are quick to judge and a modelling career has become too disposable over the topic of what is the right look at the time. The old age question of what is regarded as too big, too small, too fat, too thin within fashion is affecting models regularly, and with this has been linked to the stigma of ‘perfection within fashion’.
All Walks of the Catwalk is a ‘sanctuary’ set up by O’Connor herself, Debra Bourne and Caryn Franklin to ensure models and people within the industry are cared for and protected from the realities of their jobs and the harsh critics that haunt their work. The organisation is intended to provide models with a place of calm, away from the pressures of their jobs, and the time to reflect on their self-appreciation. ‘Feeling excluded is horrid, it is a real instinct’, O’Connor told me with a soft look, nodding to suggest she was speaking from experience. In the age of plastic surgery and touching up, there is huge stress on having the right nose, jawline or teeth, and the emphasis on a specific type of perfection. All Walks of the Catwalk represents how important it is to be individual within the industry and how standing your ground protects your personality.
“Everyone is different, dialogue is as important as the visual”
Voicing the problem is seen as the biggest part of the campaign, “Women speaking out is hugely empowering. Everyone is different, dialogue is as important as the visual”, O’Connors said. Embracing new trends and trying out different fashions is liberating for women, but it is ultimately what is felt on the inside that completes the look on the outside. “You have to earn it, this comes with confidence”, she tells me. What about the jaunts from others around you at work? “Once you are confident and sure of yourself, you have less of a desire to please other people.”
Image Credits: safronbells.com, Jessie Roseblade