“The way I talk makes people feel comfortable, or uncomfortable, which seems to do the trick.”
Speaking to Emma Breschi, I learn a lot about her – and fast. By her own admission, she’s a talker. So here are the facts. Originally a photographer by trade, Emma was scouted on Instagram in 2016. After that, her modelling career took off pretty quickly: she enjoys a close professional relationship with Vivienne Westwood, has appeared in Vogue Italia, and has worked with the photographer Juergen Teller. But her major passion is advocacy.
Emma refuses to toe the party line of the usual Insta-influencer. An ambassador for both UN Women and the period-poverty charity Bloody Good Period, she feels strongly about speaking up for all women. Another thing she likes to make a lot of noise about is the environment, whether that’s through working to curb the pollution of our oceans or urging the brands she works with to prioritise sustainability efforts.
I know that, before being scouted, you were primarily a photographer. How has becoming a model affected your approach to photography?
My photography was all about exploring what being a woman meant to me, exploring key themes around womanhood and femininity. I guess this was because I struggled to understand where I stood as a young woman. Through being a model I actually managed to discover myself and was able to be reborn in this industry.
You’ve worked extensively with Vivienne Westwood – I’m curious about what that has been like.
Vivienne has taken me under her wing and helped me develop my own voice because, let’s face it, she has one of the loudest voices in the industry. She’s told me to own my title as someone who wants to make change. At the end of the day, I’m not only in fashion because I love it, but because I want to change it for the better.
Speaking of your other interests, can you tell us about how you came to work with UN Women?
When the UN approached me to become an ambassador, I was gobsmacked. Teaming up with them had been one of my biggest dreams of all time. They told me that I was exactly what they needed because my voice resonated with people. I think it’s just the way I talk – it makes people feel comfortable, or uncomfortable, which seems to do the trick.
That sounds about right! As someone who cares about the environment, what are you doing to make the fashion industry more sustainable?
As a model, sometimes I feel like I’m one person and I can’t do anything to change the industry. But just by asking brands I work with about their approach to sustainability, at least that’s me encouraging the big dogs of the industry to think more about the environment.
People often refer to you as an activist. Does that title come with any pressure?
It’s like I just woke up one day and people were suddenly calling me an activist. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the term because I’m not on the frontline saving the trees, but I’ve realised that everyone can be an activist in their own way.
Where do you want to go next with your career?
I try not to think ahead too much. To have a successful future you’ve got to stay in the present by being grounded and keeping in touch with what you want to achieve. That’s what will propel you into the future.
15 June 2020