Erin Wasson: Home Truths

The Model Turned Designer on Nan Goldin and a House in Yonkers

I like to think I’m more than a pretty face,” says Erin Wasson, and after speaking with the Dallas-born supermodel for a mere 20 minutes, there’s no way you would disagree. Yes, she’s graced the elite covers (Esquire, Elle, i-D), walked for the biggest fashion houses––Balenciaga, Gucci, Lanvin––and fronted campaigns for the crème de la crème of brands (she’s been the face of Maybelline since 2002). But since she began working with friend and kindred spirit Alexander Wang, styling his breakthrough “Model Off Duty” collection in 2007, she’s become sought after as a creative, celebrated for her California-Zen wisdom and grungy, effortlessly cool personal style. She debuted Low Luv, her jewelry line, at the fall 2008 Alexander Wang show, and more recently has worked on a series of collaborative collections with surf and skate label RVCA. This September 10, she’s manning a Low Luv stall at Manhattan’s Ace Hotel as part of Opening Ceremony’s contribution to Fashion’s Night Out, with all profits going to charity. We caught up with her to get her thoughts on Nan Goldin and the beauty of imperfection. 

We hear that Nan Goldin demanded you specifically for the Scanlan & Theodore shoot?

Apparently that’s what happened, which is an unbelievable honor. When we met for the first time at the house in Yonkers where we did the shoot, she said, “Wow, I remember you being so much more androgynous.” I think in her mind, she had a definitive idea of me when I first started out in the business with a shaved head. She said, “You’re so much more womanly these days.” And I said, “Well sweetheart, that’s what happens in ten years.” 

What was it like working with her?

We got along so well and I’m such a fan of her work. I remember getting the book Sexual Dependency and being completely blown away by the rawness of her photography when I was a lot younger. So when this project came up it could have been for anything and I would have jumped on board. We had a great rapport—she was allowing me to have an opinion. She just let me do my thing. It wasn’t about busting a move, or getting all tricky with the poses. It’s a beautiful thing when someone is there solely to document the history taking place in front of them, as opposed to directing them or making it contrived or stylized in any manner. 

Can you tell us about the setting? It seems there’s some sort of mad backstory there…

Yeah, it’s very much that. It’s this crazy old house built in the 20s or 30s, by an extremely wealthy man. It has so much weird history and when you’re walking around the walls are still speaking. It’s so creepy. Nan especially finds the rawness and the grittiness in any situation—whether it's physical or not—to be so tantalizing, and I am the same. I find imperfections beautiful. One of the best moments was when we got to the house and Nan and I started perusing the property and finding places we felt were really special—for example a monochromatic room where the wallpaper was perfectly peeling on the walls—and chose clothes that went into this whole world.

It seems like a lot of people are doing art and fashion collaborations at the moment. Is it the way forward?

Oh my goodness. I never would have thought I’d be working with Nan in a fashion context. I remember the first time seeing Ryan McGinley shoot for W magazine and I thought, “Wow, this is kind of crazy and profound all at the same time.” I think that it’s an interesting time in the world as you do have iconic people such as Nan who are so unbelievably relevant, and for them to come back and do a project like this resonates so massively. 


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