As a part of Nick Knight’s Subjective series, Erin O’Connor talks about modelling as creative performance; namely, her part in Alexander McQueen’s SS 2001 show, which was set in an asylum.
«It’s probably the most exciting show I’ve ever done, in my career,» O’Connor told photographer Nick Knight as part of his series, Subjective, focusing on the role of the model in fashion photography.
«To me, it defines why I love my job. When McQueen made this dress for me, it was done in such painstaking detail; I was really involved in the story. It was made of razor clams, and before the show — we’d never really get a rehearsal, we’d get some kind of vague guidance, which was always shaky territory — this time he said, ‘So, you’re in a lunatic asylum. I need you to go mental, have a nervous breakdown, die, and then come back to life. And if you can do that in three minutes and just follow the crescendo of the music.’ Unlike actors and actresses, we’re not directed, we’re not given a rehearsal, and you have free reign to do what you think is right and how you think you should represent something. So, before I go out, he grabs me by the clam and says, ‘I want you to rip the dress off,’ and I had worried that it looked that I was in some way a victim of being in that mind-set — but it was completely the opposite of that. It looked like I was stripping away the pain and the armour and just going ‘Here I am.’ He pushed me, and I’m glad.»
«Mum and Dad came to that show, and they sat with Isabella Blow,» O’Connor revealed. «When my dad saw me, he didn’t see me at all; he saw some woman that he had never expected to see, nor had he identified with, and he cried. He cried really hard. He couldn’t believe that I had it in me to want to express like that. But those shows were real emotion; there was nothing gimmicky about it.»