She was the first person to be outfitted with woven carbon-fiber prostheses that were modeled on the hind legs of a cheetah – which later became the adapted model for athletes everywhere – and set world records while wearing them.
Now, aged 36, having retired competitively from sport, Mullins' relationship and understanding of her body, and women's body issues, has matured. She recalls an event where leading female athletes had gathered to break the ice by sharing something they were good at. "I said, 'I can bake a mean zucchini bread'," she laughs. "We were all being so ridiculously humble because that's how we're taught. We don't realize how we treat ourselves. We tell women to feel good about themselves, but if they embody that, we punish them in a way."
Modeling is an ongoing passion for Mullins, though her journey into it was far from conventional. "There are models that are discovered – that was not me," she says. "I wasn't a model. I did a piece
in a design magazine and the influential graphic designer Peter Saville saw it and then showed it to photographer Nick [Knight] and Lee [McQueen]. It was really a 'be careful what you wish for moment', because I was straight on a plane."
A close friendship and a creative collaboration followed, leading to iconic shoots in Dazed & Confused and Mullins walking in McQueen's SS99 show. She remains close to the fashion house. "I can't believe it's been 15 years. Sarah's a mama now!" she says excitedly of Burton, the brand's creative director.
“You can REINVENT yourself every day. Whether it’s exercise or fashion, it’s the power of TRANSFORMATION”
So how did Mullins end up with so many strings to her bow? "I was just curious," she shrugs. That quality extends to her fashion choices: "I am a chameleon," she laughs. Her
can't-live-without pieces are Alaïa heels ("so well made") and jewelry by close friend Betony Vernon. She also favors long dresses from Rick Owens and Theyskens' Theory. "Because of my legs and the way I walk, I like pieces that hug my bottom."
Of course, Mullins' upbringing is a factor and she gives credit to
her storytelling Irish family: "You can reinvent yourself every day. Whether it's exercise or fashion, it's the power of transformation. There are a lot of things we don't have control over, but there are key things where we do. You need to be the most interesting version of yourself, that's the sexiest; that's the most compelling."
AIMEE's go-to pieces
"WHEN I NEED to feel confident, McQueen is it for me."
"I HAVE A SOFT SPOT for jumpsuits. I adore Haider's take on them."
are my hands-
because they are forever shoes."
Jacket by Theyskens' Theory; top by Alexander McQueen; pants and ring by Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane; sandals by Alaïa. Earrings by Solange Azagury-Partridgecredits
Art director: Gemma Stark.
Styling: Sofia Catania.
Hair and makeup: Sandrine Van Slee at Art Department