Actress, Producer, Humanitarian, and Fashion Designer. Is there anything Aerin O’Connell can’t do?
I have been following O’Connell since her line appeared in a Nolcha Fashion Week show in 2015. Her sleek designs are classic enough to feed my inner debutante and edgy enough to appease the hipster desperately trying to escape.
ATYPICALSOUNDS had the opportunity to chat with Aerin about her Autumn/Winter collection of Intrepid by A’OC at the launch party for the line’s new video. The line goes on sale this month and I will definitely be snagging the tuxedo jumpsuit and the little red dress.
What made you decide to be a designer?
To be completely honest, it was a very gradual process. It’s not one thing, I had been working in film, and kind of creative across the board but it wasn’t a conscious choice to seek out being a fashion designer. I love designing in general, whether its jewelry, furniture, clothing.
Do you still design furniture?
Well I’ve been busy doing this, so at the moment no. But it’s something I’d like to explore in the future.
I heard that you got started with fashion on set. How did you start leading wardrobe teams on set?
My ex-husband had a lot of faith in me to pursue that sort of aspect of film. I had produced, but wardrobe and costumes were something that he and I felt could merge as far as my love for fashion and my love for period pieces. I had gone to the School of Style in Los Angeles, because a stylist isn’t just a personal shopper. I haven’t done much more than shorts and independent films but they were featured.
You based your designs on Edward Hopper. What elements from his paintings did you incorporate into your designs?
I’m obsessed with space, and when you over-complicate scenery, [it over-complicates the] depiction of anything really. I think this goes back to the synonymous tagline of Intrepid, that less is more. Negative space can speak volumes more than too many objects. So I’ve always kind of related to that. You’d look at something like Chicago and a bar, and there’s one guy at the bar, one bartender, and this perspective from across the street. Not many things are in the imagery and that’s more impactful and intense for me. Less is more is something I strive for in my everyday life within fashion, within my apartment, within furniture. It just kind of reigns through in paintings like that. It leaves room for the imagination, for perspective, for interpretation, leaving a lot of it up to the individual. I think that is far more powerful than creating it for them.
Any film plans on the table?
Yes. An old friend/producing partner and I worked on the short film “Woke Up Crying.” The director was John Ibsen, known for international trailers like “The Dark Knight.” Him and I have been working on agreeing on a project. He’s been working on “The Avengers” right now, but it’s going to be a feature. As far as documentaries go, I’m still in post production on my documentary about Liberia, and human rights, mainly women and health issues.
How do you want people to feel when they wear your designs?
Did you grow up with an interest in fashion?
I think I always had an addiction for fashion. I loved shopping, it’s how my mother and I would bond, My interest dove deeper when my sister-in-law took me to the Lower East Side or East Village to an antique boutique to find a vintage leather bomber jacket and she sparked that interest for me. But I’ve always been into clothes.
Tell me about your biggest supporters.
My brother, family in general, special friends in Los Angeles and CJ who has taken over and Kevin Nolan. He’s the reason why I started custom making furniture and jewelry. He also has a flair for design, and an amazing eye for aesthetics, so we’ve teamed up for renovations and other design aspects.
Where do you find inspiration when you’re stuck?
I never seek out inspiration. Inspiration finds you. I really believe in that. You can hide and run but walking out of your door every morning, things will cross your path and will stun you or spark some sort of inspiration. You just have to be willing to receive it.
What are you most proud of with this line?
The fact that I have kept going and I didn’t give up when things got discouraging and that I had the courage to move back to New York and continue what the dream really entails.
What do you have in store for the future?
Stick around and find out.
Do you have plans to head back to LA or are you staying put in New York?
I’d like to be bi-coastal, but I knew that if I wanted to continue this venture it requires my undivided attention, concentration, and seriousness so I’m here until we can get this off the ground.
Interview has been condensed for publishing.