This Week's Model: Carré Otis
In the late Eighties and early Nineties, Carré Otis epitomized the wild, glamorous and often dark side of modeling. She walked the European runways, starred in Calvin Klein and Guess ads, battled anorexia and drug addiction, and had a famously volatile relationship with Mickey Rourke (her co-star in the notorious film Wild Orchid). These days, the 41-year-old lives a much quieter life with her husband and children in rural Colorado, although she hasn’t abandoned her first love—modeling. Along with Greg Shortt, Otis recently co-founded The Network, an association of modeling agencies in small markets aimed at protecting the “mom-and-pop” firms of the business. “Not all New York agencies are great for some girls,” she says. “A lot of girls can get lost there.”
What is The Network exactly?
We’re a community of modeling agencies that bring together small and medium agencies all around the world in order to reach clients worldwide. The fashion industry is a five billion dollar business, and we feel that agencies in smaller markets are really entitled to a piece of that pie.
What inspired you to come back to the modeling industry?
Modeling is not the healthiest of environments to be raised in, so we’re giving these models tools. We’ve gathered experts specializing in eating disorders, nutrition, health and wealth management so that these girls can have healthy and successful careers and lives.
Guess ad campaign, 1988
Speaking of health and nutrition, you struggled with an eating disorder for years and then later came out as a plus-size model; how did your perspective change?
My weight fluctuated when I was 30, and I did the unthinkable—I stepped out as a plus-sized model. All the women who were modeling the way I was would rather have been unemployed than publicly be a size 12. But I didn’t want to hide behind a shadow until my body changed.
Do you think the plus-sized model phenomenon is just a fad?
I think that we can’t deny the public’s want for balancing out the images that are out there depicting women. Not all of us are 17 and a size two. It’s definitely a very liberating moment, and I think it has to last. Just because you’re a different size doesn’t mean you’re sitting on the couch eating bonbons all day long watching TV.
What were some of your personal career highs and lows?
I did some great work with my Calvin Klein ads on the motorcycle. It was really groundbreaking because people hadn’t seen a woman actually riding a motorcycle before. I did some awesome stuff at Donna Karan and Guess. One of the harder moments was when my ex-husband [Rourke] crashed New York Fashion Week. I had been hired for some of the best shows, and it was particularly embarrassing because I didn’t want any of our personal business to overshadow the collections, and it did in a lot of ways.
What does your day-to-day look like now?
Today, I dropped my daughters off at school, went to Pilates, cross-country skied, and now I’m working from home. My wildest dreams actually manifested—I met somebody that I wanted to marry and had kids. I’m finding such satisfaction and pleasure with the simple things. I really paid my dues and damn it, I deserve it.
Guess ad campaign, 1988
Check back next week for the latest installment of The Skinny. And see all our previous model Q&As here!
Follow W magazine on Facebook