Grazia Daily chats to Erin O'Connor!

10 September 2010

We meet British supermodel Erin O'Connor in the run up to London fashion week for a natter about cycling, looking after models, the perfect T-shirt and much, much more!

Grazia Daily: So Erin, we hear you are the face of a Birmingham cycle extravaganza! Can you tell us a bit about that?

Erin O'Connor: It's called Sky Ride, it's been all around cities in the UK but it's finishing on Sunday in Birmingham. As it is the final one, I've dragged all my sisters' mates, and Mum, Dad, Aunties and cousins along to do it as well. I feel it's important to incorporate humour into it. We want to get rid of any awful images of lycra in people's minds. It's aimed at all ages and types of people.

Doing a press call for it this morning, I was posing furiously in the shadow of the famous Birmingham Rag Market. It’s very nostalgic for me as I remember spending a lot of time hanging round there as an indie-kid teenager. Nowadays of course, since they built the amazing Selfridges, it’s recognized as a fashionable cosmopolitan hotspot! [giggles uncontrollably]

GD: Is there a health and fitness/slimness aspect to all this this cycling about?

EO'C: Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not very formulaic about exercise – I’m certainly not a gym bunny. I prefer to exercise while whizzing past a scenic background. I live in South London, and my favourite route is over Waterloo Bridge and up towards Holborn. Perfect!


GD: And what bike have you got? Are you a dedicated fixie?

EO'C: I’ve got a Pashley, from which I will NOT be parted. I think it suits my Miss Jean Brodie image. It's just the same as this thing [about not needing to] wear a lycra suit! You can have style AND functionality at the same time.

GD: There is a girl I’ve seen a couple of times wearing a velvet riding helmet around W1. What is your best cycling outfit and is there anything to avoid in particular?

EO'C: Wow, that sounds very gymkhana on wheels! As for me; not high heels – but anything else apart form that. I’m pretty freestyle. I do occasionally forget to take my helmet off before meetings though – and I’m not immune to the dreaded hat hair!


With London designers Christopher Kane, Erdem and Marios Schwab

GD: London Fashion Week is almost upon us!  Are you excited, or does it involve stress and military style planning for you?

EO'C: Very excited of course! AND lots of military planning, this year in particular, because we’re opening the new Model Sanctuary. It’s in a building in Covent Garden, over five floors. We have an osteopath, a counsellor, a nutritionist on hand, and we’ve been averaging about 150 models through the door daily.

GD: Yikes! That’s loads!

EO'C: Well, yeah. We think it's good because it shows it's working and it’s a necessary service. It’s been a funny few weeks. I’ve been in there myself loads, doing the final painting and decorating. I even bought a new Hoover, which I had to drag across Covent Garden Piazza to get into the building. We’ve also got students from London College of Fashion involved – they are providing artwork for the wall and they have been in there a lot, which I want to encourage. I want the models and students to mingle and spend as much time together as possible. I think – they’re all young, and they are all going into the same industry, so it's valuable for them to each learn as much as possible about the role they play in it and how that fits in with the other parts. 

We are having an open day on September 16th if you are interested in coming over to have little look around?

GD: How kind of you to invite us Erin, that would be ace. On the subject of London Fashion Week, who are you most looking forward to, show-wise?

EO'C: Oh the usual suspects, Hannah [Marshall] Osman, [Yousefzada] and a very exciting development! I’m launching my own range of T-shirts and cotton bags with my friend Kate Halfpenny! They’re called ‘She died of beauty’ [and are very cool indeed]. We like to think they are poking fun, very gently at the industry we work in, because it can take itself a little too seriously and we wanted to do something camp and funny and ironic. To me that’s what a great T-shirt should be.

GD: It’s got such a great ring to it, is it a quote from somewhere?

EO'C: No, Kate and I came up with it one day and we thought – my God, that should really be on a bag! Now they are, and we’re really pleased with them.


With Hannah Marshall on the Catwalk

GD: Here at Grazia Daily, We are all hooked on BNTM at Grazia. They seem quite sadistic to the girls, always getting them to strip off, cover them in chocolate or fake blood and chase them around with axes. Have you ever had a similar experience modelling or is that program all pantomime?

EO'C: We really need to understand that this is an understand entertainment show, it’s very over the top. In some ways it is how people who don’t work in fashion imagine modelling to be like, and they are looking in from the outside.  Although - it’s great fun to watch. It’s entertainment.

GD: You must know Julien Macdonald pretty well though . . .

EO'C: Of course I know Julien. I’ve known him for 12 of the 15 years I’ve been working. Do you know the funniest thing about him? He’s the most loyal son ever and he brings his Mum and Dad to all the fashion events! It's brilliant! The last time I saw his parents, they were sitting on a sofa at Number 10 quaffing champagne! I mean, people talk about proud parents showing off their kids, he’s the other way round! He’s always showing his Mum and Dad off!


GD: Thank you so much Erin, and we’ve just got one more question for you. Can you recommend us a good book?

EO'C: Yes! I’ve recently very much enjoyed The diaries of a Provincial Lady by E M Delafield. It's set just before the Second World War about a middle class housewife who has these really camp adventures. And because it's in diary form, it's so easy to read. It's like an early form of Bridget Jones Diary. It’s a great read!

- Naomi Attwood

People interested in Sky Ride or cycling can visit for news, information and online registration for each of the Sky Ride events. The site will also feature tips and expert advice on how to ride safely and in style plus views from Sky Ride’s cycling ambassadors.



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