In the past 4 months, I was in New York City interning at a high-end designer fashion firm. Here’s the honest account of what it was like to be in the ooh la la! glam world of fashion.
The fashion designer was the type to be featured in Vogue and all those trendy magazines. And yes, my experience was akin to the intern b#tch role you saw in The Devil Wears Prada. I was pretty much thrown into the fast-paced, catty, celebrity-calling-my-cell,
Fashion had always been a fantasyland dream for me. Seeing Alexander McQueen and Nicolas Ghesquiere’s creations were a form of pure sashaying, expensive clothes hanger art. And for the longest time I’d also dreamed of spending winter in New York. Never had I imagined being a part of the fashion scene though. Or at least I never saw how I could fit in. Being thrown into the crazy motherf*CKer city that is NY, I was faced with so many different options – from food to friends: street hot dog or world’s most expensive burger? Random strangers in West Village or flaky creatives who helped Heatherette launch their MAC cosmetics line? The city really will eat you alive if you don’t know your s#it, and yourself.
My story so far to friends & family in Vancouver has been one of “Yeah, it was great” … and that’s about it. But I’d been so blind and closed during those 4 months that I’m embarrassed at telling them all the opportunities I didn’t take. No, I didn’t try for Fashion PR. No, I didn’t attend any shows aside from the one during my internship. No, I didn’t even explore NY’s shopping because of many stupid reasons.
Looking for a paying job there was not a priority, but with the forces of family, it soon came to be. Looking into a work visa was gawdawful work, and a lot more disencouraging. Being Canadian felt like the most jipped citizenship in the world – we’re right above the US, but unless we’re soil scientists, we ain’t getting work without sponsorship. So I held this faulty belief that being Canadian was something to be shameful of. Little did I know that at the show during New York Fashion Week, I saw not one but TWO awesomely Canadian models come down the runway – Irina Lazareanu and Coco Rocha from RICHMOND, BC! (Check them out at http://www.businessoffashion.net/2007/08/toronto-supermo.html#more) But see what I mean? Close your eyes and the world is closes its doors.
Aside from the transitions, struggles, inner turmoils, loving & losing, this experience gave me a wake up slap-in-the-face call that Vancouver would be much too polite to unleash. I gave NY as much as I could, and in return I got a whole lot. And the stylish silver linings are…
– Meeting Vogue worthy designers
– Being in Diane Von Furstenburg’s studio
– Meeting Alexander Wang at Barneys New York
– Chatting to Jutta, a leather goods handbag designer & store owner in the Lower East Side about vegetarianism
– Conversing in Chelsea with Lingo owner about the living your life simply (she listens to CASSETTE TAPES for gawd’s sake!)
– Meeting the editor of Vogue Accessories at Henri Bendel
– Visiting… and REvisiting Barneys, Bergdorf, Saks, and Bloomingdales SO many freakkin times that I know exactly what designers are sold, on which floor, and with how much retail space
– Disputing a mispriced staple gun ($3!) for a charity trunk show
– Presenting a marketing report to the Sr Managing Director and Sales Director
– Being 5 feet away from Rihanna
– Surprising a Barneys sales associate with my random act of kindness (uh… I just asked him how he was doing, and he was geniunely touched)
– Wandering in the LES with my favourite New York girlfriend, popping into vintage chic stores while she and her sister waited patiently 🙂
– Being exposed to new retail concepts: carousel as centerpiece, knitted wall, ceiling high hangers, fluid dept store layout…
– finding Marc Jacobs for $5 at a thrift store
– running around with a fax machine, kleenex boxes, and stacks of papers in the pouring rain trying to hail a cab 😛
Anyway, to wrap up, fashion’s a b#tch, and New York’s a pirhana. But that’s hardly stopping me from venturing forth again; whatever doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger.