How to become a British icon

Erin O’Connor

Iconic British supermodel Erin O'Connor had had a career in the fashion world spanning 20 years.


What’s the secret to success?

Listen to yourself - you’re probably right. Don’t accept other people’s limitations or definitions. Work harder than you thought possible. Be kind to yourself and never ever forget to have fun along the way.


What’s your advice for getting ahead in fashion?

The power of instinct is something you should nurture and hone as a tool. You will hear 'no' a lot. Be-friend that word because only you as a person can change that, it’s a power that you can use to your own advantage. You can make it into your own version of yes. Like many people I have also learned about rejection. In my early years, I was frequently told that I didn’t fit in, that I wasn’t quite right, and it wasn’t always put as politely as that.

Top Tip

When I’m most nervous, which is often - even after all this time, I just compose myself, stand tall (er) and I just go out and do my thing. The real secret is to think about all sorts of things inside your own head. If you want to bring purpose to a model’s job - be a performer. I think that’s always the aspect I’ve enjoyed. Turn it into a craft and collaborate with designers, artists and fashion magazines.

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Supermodel and Fashion Icon

Erin, who was born and raised in Walsall, began her career in modelling after she was spotted by a talent scout during a school visit to the Birmingham Clothes Show. She quickly rose to stardom and is now recognised as one of the UK's most prolific supermodels.

Erin has worked with many famous designers including the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier, Alexander McQueen and Ralph Lauren. She has appeared on numerous magazine front covers and been the face of advertising campaigns for Chanel, Armani, and Marks and Spencer.

Away from the catwalk, Erin has appeared in several documentaries for television and radio, drawing on her experiences in fashion and mentoring the next generation of aspiring models.

She is also co-founder of the award winning 'All Walks Beyond the Catwalk' initiative, working with influential catwalk designers and top industry creatives to celebrate greater diversity within the fashion industry.

She received an honorary doctorate from the University in September 2015, graduating alongside students from the School of Fashion and Textiles.