NEW YORK - Erin Wasson was doing the model workout: a mix of dancing, running and jumping. And she was doing it fully dressed - in heavy fall clothes on the first truly warm day of spring - with her hair and makeup done.
The lights were hot, but a serious wind was coming from oversized fans.
Wasson was at one of the vast photography studios at Chelsea Piers, shooting the fall ad campaign for the shoe brand Rockport, a brand she has fronted for three seasons.
"I am the model athlete," Wasson joked during a break between outfits.
Wasson, 31, is a veteran, claiming countless runway shows and big campaigns for Maybelline, Gap and Elie Saab. Models.com categorizes her as one of the "money girls."
But doing this for 13 years also has made her want to do more, and to do it - or at least start it - while she's a successful model. She started styling looks for designer friends, especially her old neighbor Alexander Wang, adding her relaxed street style to their catwalks. She collaborated with skater brand RVCA and showed that collection at New York Fashion Week, and she designs jewelry for her label called Low Luv. Branching out further: She appeared in last summer's movie "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer."
"I don't want to be a flash in the pan," she insists.
Dani Tschuemperlin, Rock-port's chief marketing officer, says Wasson has long-term appeal because she gets the all-day lives of many women, and she can dial it up or down accordingly. "Erin is all about no compromises. ... She does not compromise style for comfort and vice versa, and we think she truly embodies the ideal Rockport woman: a strong, American casual businesswoman."
Wasson is a Texas girl, but there isn't a hint of a drawl. Even though she's blond and tanned, her look, with its funky edge and propensity for black, still says New Yorker, even though she mostly lives in Los Angeles now.
"So much about New York formed me, but the L.A. lifestyle suits me better. It's easier to live well," she said. "You have the beach, the desert, the mountains. And I love the beach-desert combination. I'm really a reptile. I feel a beautiful energy from the hot, dry heat."
She has a good life balance, she says, but she'll use the energy she gets from her surroundings and put it to work. Every day, Wasson devotes time to making her jewelry. "I love jewelry. I love touching it, wearing it, making it. I am obsessed with it."
Then there was the year Wasson borrowed a 12-carat diamond necklace and more baubles for her wrists and ears to walk the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. She tripped on the hem of her gown. "It was one of those things you can't make up. I went into a moment of panic. The bracelet went flying."
It was one of the times that she'll be forever grateful for the opportunities her modeling career has given her, and she says she understands the "job" side of that. It's not just about looking good and building her own image, she also is there - on someone else's dime - to promote or sell something. She offers her opinion when asked, and she feels she is taken seriously, but in the end, she'll wear what the client wants, flip her hair the way the photographer wants. "To model. That's the job. I'm not here to be the makeup artist, the hair stylist or the art director."
Wasson has a "four-hand rule," which means only two people - say, a manicurist and dresser - can be touching her at the same time. People who do makeup and pedicures will have to wait. She loves working with all the backstage and crew members, though.
"I was creative as a kid, and then plucked into this radical world, and I'm surrounded by such creative people and they are like creative conduits," Wasson says. "I can only hope all the work I do inspires someone else."
New models don't seek her out for beauty tips or to ask what it was like to work with a top designer, she says, it's always about building a long career. She answers with questions: "What's your passion? What's your hobby? Whether it's crocheting or music, tap into it."
She adds: "I'm realizing I'm really a businesswoman. ... There are so many beautiful girls, but I understand that and I hope they understand that they're quite disposable. I hope my authenticity about what I do and who I am translates, and that's what will create something more."