Elisabeth Erm is our March 2019 Model of the Month.
The Estonian native made her foray into fashion after being discovered when she was 17 while at a mall in her hometown. When she started out, she only modeled over summer breaks because she was still in high school and it was the only time she could travel. 3 years later she was on a plane to the F/W 14 New York Fashion Week and not only ended up opening for Lacoste and Theyskens’ Theory but also booked seven shows.
From the moment she appeared on the runway Elisabeth caused a stir with her dynamic presence. She went on to find favor on the international runway circuit of Milan and Paris, walking in nineteen shows for several brands like Balenciaga, Balmain, Giorgio Armani, Miu Miu, Chanel, and Dior. She also made a clean sweep of the Fall/Winter 2013 season with campaigns for Balmain, Etro, Moschino, and Top Shop.
The sweeping success of her first full season, proved that she's an essential component of any great cast and a true global beauty. Between opening multiple shows and impressing designers with her professionalism her rapid ascent to modeling’s top tier feels fated.
With her distinctively Nordic beauty, unmistakable poise and laid-back charm Elisabeth is in a league of her own and it almost seems impossible enough for her not to stand out.
Below, she dishes to FMD on everything from starting out and growing up in Estonia to her musical likes and how she unwinds. Read on to learn what the top model had to say, and later check out her profile on FMD
How did you get to be where you are? How did your modeling career start?
I was discovered at a local mall in my hometown. I was 17 at the time and still in high school so didn’t think much of it and just focused on school. I did some traveling during summer breaks to Milan and Istanbul but never thought of it as full-time career, it all changed when i flew to NYC 3 years later to try out FW 14 fashion week. I didn’t have any hopes at all, i remember thinking that I’d be happy with just booking even show, so i couldn’t believe my luck when i ended up opening for Lacoste.
What was your first big break in the industry?
It’s hard to pinpoint, I believe it's been every break, no matter how big or small but maybe SS 14 fashion week when i walked more than 60 shows.
Is the fashion world what you expected it to be?
Not at all. Back then i had no clue of how the industry works. I didn’t realize how shows, videos and print were all connected, and the amount of people and time behind every project, i only saw the pictures or clip from a fashion show. Now everything is completely different from what i thought it was. It’s great and makes me appreciate it even more.
What do you like about the modeling profession?
I really like editorial work, the process of what different makeup, clothes, the light and angles can create, it’s like stepping out of reality and turning into a different character for day. I also have to mention traveling, this job has taken me to same many different amazing locations that i would have never thought of going on my own.
What do you like less about your job?
For some unknown reason to myself i don’t enjoy constantly sharing my life on social media. I post very rarely, so in the era where Instagram and other social media have taken over the world i find it sometimes almost suffocating.
What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
Whenever i get asked this question the Gucci SS 2014 campaign i shot by Mert and Marcus comes to mind. Whenever i saw myself on billboards i wanted to pinch myself.
What was one of your favorite past projects?
There is too many just to name one. One of the most fun editorials i shot was for Vogue Paris by Giampaolo Sgura, when i was turned into different designer barbie dolls, what you might not know is that nothing was photoshopped, everything was built from scratch for every look, i was inside a real life-size packaging, living my best “life is plastic, it’s fantastic” life. At these kind of shoots, when there’s so much work that’s put into i really love what i do.
Out of all the places your career has taken you, where was the most memorable?
I had an editorial for Crash Magazine that was shot high up in the mountains in Peru by Alexander Neumann. It was a 4-day project with all the travelling included, we started at the bottom of the mountains working our way up shooting at different locations. The landscape and the weather changed with every picture, from sunny deserts to gloomy snowfalls. We were chewing on coca leaves to fight the altitude sickness and at one point we were even carrying oxygen tanks around with us as we made our way up. It was definitely one of the most challenging shoots I’ve done, but the nature and landscapes were so powerful that made me extremely grateful for my job. I fell in love with Peru and will definitely go back one day.
How do you deal with all the traveling required to be a model? How do you cure jet-lag?
Jet lag is still a constant struggle for me. Only thing that has really helped is that I’ve gotten used to sleeping in uncomfortable positions on airplanes. I also never travel without a good neck pillow, eye mask and a white noise playlist to help me doze off.
How would you describe yourself as model in three words?
Being present on the shoot, good energy and patient.
Give us 1 fact about you people may not know.
My nr 1 favorite thing to do is horseback riding. Lately it’s been hard to find time for it but i find working with horses be the best stress reliever.
Are you a morning person or night person?
Most definitely a morning person, i love waking up really early in the AM when the rest of the world is still asleep, it’s so peaceful at this time.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Oh my... there’s a lot but my most recent one has to be indulging into different Korean drama series. They’re well scripted with good acting. My absolute must watch is Descendants of the Sun.
How do you stay in shape?
Working out 5 times a week for an hour but also staying active throughout the rest of my day, for example i like to go everywhere on foot rather than taking a car or using public transportation.
What is your favorite form of exercise?
I love the adrenaline rush i get from going for long distance runs but every workout can get boring pretty fast so i like switching things up constantly, lately I’ve been obsessed with different bootcamp type classes.
What’s your beauty regime?
I’ve always been quite simple, i swear by always removing my makeup before bed, keeping it well moisturized and sunscreen. Also greens and drinking a lot of water is a must, but even then, my skin gets dull at times, so a good facial always helps.
Name your five essential items you wouldn't leave the house without?
Lip balm, oversized sunglasses, my vintage film camera, a current book of choice and my phone.
What’s the 1 outfit that makes you feel sexy and confident?
I love a good fitting tailored black suit with some killer heels, it’s so powerful yet a sexy look.
What things in your wardrobe would you never throw away?
I’m obsessed with coats, jackets so I’ve got a quite big collection of outerwear, but one of my absolute favorites is long checked wool coat from Isabel Marant that I’ll never want to part ways with.
What's the best life advice you've ever received?
Have patience and stay strong. Live for the moment but know how to step back and see the full picture.
If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?
To be able to stop time. So that some moments could be enjoyed longer but i would be handy in stressful times as well, when i need to get my thoughts in order before making a decision.
You've had the privilege of doing photo shoots alongside Inez Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Mario Testino, Juergen Teller, and Alasdair McLellan: Whom would you consider a favorite and why?
I am extremely grateful to have been working with so many industry legends, so every shoot has been special in their own way and I’ve always learned a lot from them. Some will teach you about your angles, others about working together with lighting, and some about posing and expressions. So, it’s hard to pick just one teacher as my favorite, I’ve grown a lot because of all of them.
Of all the magazine covers you graced which is your most memorable and why?
I’m going to say Vogue Ukraine in 2014 by Driu&Tiago. Had a big hair full of tight curls and a bold red lip.
If you had to wear only one designer, who would it be?
Isabel Marant, just love love love everything!
What’s something uncool that you love anyway?
First thing that comes to mind is going on long walks. It can be in the nature or in different cities, but i love just wandering around in a new place for hours without any particular destination in mind.
When you're not busy modeling, what are some of your favorite things to do?
Horseback riding, reading a good book and love getting lost in different vintage stores. Buts also some quality alone time with friends and family has become so precious, something i maybe would have taken for granted before.
Tell me about growing up in Estonia?
I loved growing up in Estonia! I’m a true Nordic person who deals better with cold than heat. So, the long and dark winters we get never bothered me, and it is all compensated by the long spring-summer season when it almost never gets dark. I think my upbringing was quite normal. Had a loving family, did a lot of sports and had a good group of friends, so Estonia always has this special place in my heart.
What’s the best thing about your hometown? What do you miss most about it?
I’m from Tartu, and its mostly known for its university. That means it’s always filled with young people and has a great vibe in general. The city is full of little bars and cozy hang out spots. The best way to spend long summer nights is over a drink with friends at one of the many pop up bars by the riverside.
Countries/Places you would love to visit:
New Zealand, Japan and South-Korea but one of the biggest dreams of mine would be going backpacking to Patagonia.
If you weren't modelling, which career would you pursue and why?
That’s a tough one, but i have a big love for animals so in high school i was thinking about becoming a vet.
You made a clean sweep of the Fall/Winter 2013 season with campaigns for Balmain, Etro, Moschino, and Top Shop? How would you describe the feeling of such an accomplishment?
Honestly at that time it didn’t even hit me how amazing it was, my schedule was just too hectic to have time to sit back and reflect but looking back now i still get this “oh Yass girl, you’re killing it!” mood and giving my old self a big pat on the back.
Do you like runway or print modelling? why?
Both are great in their own way but as runway seasons are way more stressful, so i find myself enjoying print-work more.
You are a big fan of rock music and the likes of bands such as Korn and Papa Roach. How did you get into listening to rock music?
I sure am to this day! It all started when i was younger (like 13 years old or so) and used to play lots of video games, so this heavy rock music was what i enjoyed the most as a background music.
Has your taste evolved since then? Which bands are you into now?
I still enjoy rock when my mood calls for it, but I’ve also fell in love with electronic, such as Bob Moses and the XX.
Thank you Elisabeth for this awesome interview!
note: all answers are original and unaltered - Interview & Text by: Clinton Gonsalvez - Special Thanks to Negeva Norval-Dogra @ Model Management (Hamburg, Germany).