Does intelligence match my Prada?

Fashion always comes with the tag of 'stupid'. Choose a career in it and you will forever carry with you the handbag of judgement; the 'I look at dresses for a living' label; the necklace of bimbo.

As a fashion student I gracefully accepted the comments and disappointed looks of my parents who would have preferred an academic genius for a daughter, and now that I have entered the industry, I see those around me struggling to shake the disapproval of their peers.

Although I have not been in fashion for long, I would like to challenge this assumption and suggest that those who succeed to the top of the fashion tree are some of the most intelligent and ambitious people around.

I was fortunate enough to sit in on a meeting where the senior members of my fashion office were discussing the latest catwalks. So yes, this was a four hour slot of, essentially, looking at dresses, and I am aware that I may be shooing my superiors further into their stereotype, but I was amazed at the eye for detail and memory of these women. (Our fashion boy was absent from this meeting - probably too busy being flirted at his stream of adoring fans...) An image of Christopher Bailey's beautiful Spring 2010 collection for Burberry popped up on screen and within seconds was likened to collections as far back as 2004 as someone remembered a similar coat designed by Chanel. Added to this incredible memory of countless catwalks over the seasons is the ability fashionistas have to predict which trends will stick and which ones will fade which is a demonstration of their understanding of humans. They know what women will choose to wear and what they will be too scared to try, and they also know what tempts them to buy - far more convincing psychology than flawed Freudian assumptions based on icebergs and Oedipus!

Chanel Spring 2004

Burberry Spring 2010

(Having read the above I think I notice a change in myself - my first scathing post noting with disgust my unpaid position in what I sarcastically named 'the worlds most stylish industry' seems a far cry from where I am now - defending the intelligence of the fashion elite....)

The Great Intern Escape

In the aftermath of a photoshoot, when there are exhausted models draped elegantly across the desks, clothes hanging from every available fixture and reams of ripped backdrop paper flooding the studio, fashion interns have the perfect excuse to escape the mayhem. It is our job to return the press loan garments to their respective designers.
After a particularly manic afternoon with technical hitches, eyeshadow explosions and high heel breakages, I seized five bulging bags,a hat box and the opportunity to flee the office and went to return what we owed. In my speedy retreat I had only vaguely checked where I was heading - some distant warehouse in the Eastern outskirts of London. Thankfully, I had persuaded a fellow intern to help me carry the bags and together we wandered through unlikely alleyways in an attempt to locate this supposedly 'obvious' warehouse.

A couple of hours later I began to think that the address did not exist. Typically, it had started raining, we were being harassed by tramps and my patience was definitely waning. Eventually however, after begging some passers by to walk us right to the door (my colleague has a very sweet smile) we entered a huge windowless building and dumped our bags by the counter.

We had walked into a massive space filled with rail upon rail of beautiful, expensive and untouchable clothes. My colleague disappeared with shouts of 'you can deal with it, right?' and spent a happy afternoon wrapping herself in silks and chiffons, whilst I was left to deal with the irate manager. WHY was their lipstick on his delicate sheer blouse? WHO had ripped the hem of the (unbelievably tight) bodycon dress? WHERE was the other half of a priceless pair of kid gloves....errrr...
Unsurprisingly I did not manage to blag myself a free dress, but bade a hasty retreat promising to look after the garments better next time. (As if it is within my power to demand such things!) If anyone finds a small baby-pink glove floating around on the streets of Newham - could you let me know?!

The Last Heel Standing

Every morning the building that houses our fashion office welcomes ream upon ream of beautifully dressed girls (and, of course, our one beautifully dressed boy). High heels clatter across the minimalist floorboards, flowing scarves obstruct the CCTV and jeweled fingers tap impatiently on the security pads.
By evening, however, the spick and span attire that adorns these style experts seems to morph into a more casual look and the unaccustomed eye could be forgiven for thinking that parts of the office are no longer home to the fashion elite.

It seems that the higher up you are in the fashion hierarchy, the more acceptable it is to kick off your heels, snuggle into a thick jumper and tuck your feet up on your luxurious leather chair. Bangles and heavy earrings are discarded into the desk-tidy (ah, so that's what they're for) and tight waist-belts are draped over the obligatory garment rails at the ends of the desks.

But as an intern, or a new member of the fashion world, this is absolutely not acceptable behaviour. For us, it is vital that our high heels remain on, our legs are neatly crossed and that our accessorised wrists compete with the sounds of tapping keyboards. While the relatively new girl whose desk is behind me is sitting up straight so that her restrictive clothing doesn't present a breathing hazard, I am slouched with my legs stretched out in front of me hoping to reduce the 'baggy knee' situation that is inevitable with super skinnies.

We rush to the ladies at regular intervals to re-apply makeup and hairspray, while the senior staff scrape their once perfectly coiffed hair into relaxed ponytails and occasionally apply some sweet tasting lip balm. Unjust as this seems, I hope that as I continue to work in this stylish industry I will remain a true fashionista like Carine Roitfeld who, despite her position at the top of the fashion tree, maintains her dazzling style throughout the day. But protecting myself from the savage blasts of the air conditioning with a huge shapeless hoodie is also pretty tempting.....
Carine Roitfeld

Irrelevant, but genius...and a model afterthought

On a Friday afternoon, when the week has dragged and there isn't even the hint of a pay check, some things can really help to cheer you up.

Like this guy, Eli Milchman, who has just described the below as:

Finally, Viagra for your iphone!

Anyway, back to fashion....
This will be quick as I'm supposed to be dressing a couple of models who, incidentally, really are as gorgeous in real life as they are in magazines. I don't understand why the media have to dumb down the beauty of these girls by claiming that airbrushing is the only way to make them look good. The girls I'm dressing today are jaw droppingly elegant. In all of their 6ft tall glory my allocated models tower above me, which makes arranging their headwear rather a struggle. I would attempt a run-up-and-jump to pin some jeweled broaches onto their berets, but if I misjudge it and crash into them I don't think their delicate frames would survive....

Highly Chained Genius

Despite my position of scum at the bottom of the fashion hierarchy (is it obvious I'm bitter?!) I actually get to do some pretty cool jobs. Yesterday, for instance, I was asked (well, ordered is probably a better word) to do some research into new jewellery designers.

For some people this would be easy. They would already know a whole bunch of websites that profile the innovative and up-and-coming (Not Just a Label is one of my favourite and most recent discoveries), so whilst munching on carrot sticks and flicking their hair around, most fashionistas could quickly produce a comprehensive list of new designers to look at.
I struggled a bit. OK, so it took me all afternoon but, during my struggle I was lucky enough to come across Adrian Eric Morales.
On my blog, with only you to judge me, I can confess how much I love Adrian's designs. At work however, I was less keen to declare my lust for this jewellery, in case I was enthusing about items that everyone else thought were hideous. The quest for approval is rife within fashion, despite the prestige you receive if you successfully break the rules. If you break the rules and don't look cool, well, that's worse than thinking it's OK to bring cakes to the fashion office. (Oh, wait; I've already done that....)

So, before I announce my discovery to the girls in the office, can you give me a little confirmation - these are awesome, right?!

All images are by Adrian Eric Morales

The Great Biscuit Conundrum.

During the fashion weeks of New York, London, Milan and Paris, life as a humble fashion intern actually got a bit stressful. I had started to become good friends with the terrifyingly beautiful girls that inhabit our fashion office and wanted to help relieve their workload. As my limited experience rather restricted the amount of work I could help with, I thought I could at least make the long working hours a little more bearable.

Normally, if I see people around me getting stressed or working extra hours I bake some cakes and try to ease their pain by feeding them good, honest carbs. Without thinking of the consequences, I spent an evening with the mixing bowl, loaded myself with cakes, buns and biscuits and struggled off on the commute thinking I had the answer to the office stress levels.

How wrong I was.

The mixed emotions that greeted my baking efforts were on complete opposite ends of the scale. In front on me were gorgeous, slim and overworked beauties gagging for a good bit of cupcake. But then, on their shoulders were consciences screaming at the sight of calories, fat and delicious temptation. The cakes were gratefully accepted, and then hidden in the most unlikely of places, miles from anyone's desks so as to be 'out of sight and out of mind'. Sadly, the longing glances these cakes received were the only recognition they got, as the streams of catwalk images floating across our screens were a constant reminder of how you can look if you avoid cake altogether.

It's a shame, but at least the FedEx man and our cleaners got a (slightly stale) reward for their often unappreciated work!

Sartorially starstruck

I have avidly followed Scott Schuman on his blog 'The Sartorialist' ever since I first discovered him in Wallpaper* magazine back in 2006. His notorious ability to capture strangers 'on the street' and convince them to pose with confidence and grace infront of his lens has led to the creation of many beautiful photographs which capture both the style and personality of each of their subjects.

Schuman has recently published his first book, and I was fortunate enough to attend his book signing at Liberty Department Store. Due to London Fashion Week and the hours I spent eagerly waiting for the shows, I was well prepared to join the stream of people winding their way through the menswear department of Liberty and (in a suitably British manner) quite happily managed to shuffle, roll my eyes and tut myself to the front.

When finally reaching the table where Schuman was patiently and cheerfully signing book upon book, I tried to be restrained and not gab too much about how amazing I think he is...and I'm sure the photographs below give a much better demonstration of his talent:

Schuman admits that he is proud his 'book celebrates style through a wide range of ages, income levels and nationalities' and I am as equally proud of my signed copy!

'Sorry, but I know Luella'

My first recompense, after weeks of working for free, was to go to London Fashion Week. I won't beat about the bush; I think we all know that London isn't the most prestigious of fashion weeks. The most famous name we can drag onto the front row is the daughter of some aging singer and the biggest fashion party was held by a high-street chain. (No dis to Topshop, but it's not quite in the same league as Chanel.) However, LFW is better than no fashion week at all, so I donned my most eccentric outfit, tried to disguise my fashion week virginity and wobbled in my Louboutin rip-offs to the Pam Hogg show.

I can't pretend that I knew anyone there and this meant that, although I was half an hour early for a show that started late, I still managed to be the last person in (and sadly I couldn't pull a Lady Gaga-esque 'I had better things to do' line). The queue, and I use this in the loosest sense of the word, was more a polite boasting match for the crowd to show they 'knew people' and should be let in early. As outrageously dressed transvestites teetered towards the gates shrieking 'Dahhhling, I simply must pop in to see Pam', more subtle strategies were carried out by Z list Celebs and PR Gurus. Their method was to shout various names at the poor intern with the guestlist. On recounting a name that appeared on the list, they claimed that 'that was who sent me' and marched past the security guards with such confidence that no one could argue.

Standing outside the show was almost more entertaining than the catwalk itself as the crowd clearly ignored the scorning advice of one notorious queen: 'You come here to see fashion, not be fashion'. Mutton dressed as lamb seemed the predominate dress code, although we were also graced with the presence of a veiled he-she with big hair and a lace catsuit.

Aside from that, the show was incredible. In fact, it reminded my why I love fashion and the buzz of seeing beautiful clothes on beautiful people was definitely worth the queue. I even managed to nab a goodie bag before leaving...although it was filled with chocolates and their tempting powers were somewhat lost after staring at size 0 models all evening...

The stunning space-age designs from Pam Hogg

Congratulations! You have a boy!

One of the first things I have noticed about the fashion industry is the distinct lack of men.

Or should I rephrase that; the distinct lack of straight men.

We are lucky, in our office we have (alongside 16 girls) one boy, and the occasional visit from the IT guy downstairs. This is a pretty good ratio if we compare it to various PR companies which are made up of 20+ female employees where the only male is the frequently absent CEO.

Our boy, let's call him Rob (suitably masculine and not too uncommon) is, of course, the most popular person in the office. The swoons, giggles and pencil droppings that erupt around him are ludicrous. It is pretty impressive to even find a pencil in this world of laptops and touch-screens, but somehow, whenever Rob crosses the office, writing implements go flying and are followed by flocks of girls rushing over to bend down and pick them up. If I was ladylike enough to successfully pull off a 'bend and snap' without tripping over the printer cable, it is quite likely I'd be up there with the rest of them, but surely this doesn't happen in offices with a more even gender ratio?

Whether this is just the case in fashion, when attention is the most sought after reward, or whether outnumbered men in various offices throughout the country also benefit from endless flirtatious glances and comments I have yet to discover. Once I have more experience of the working world I'm sure I can answer my own questions, but for now, your comments are welcome!

Blogging into life as a fashion newcomer

After three years of studying I am eager to dive head first into the fashion industry. Sadly, the fashion world has not greeted me with quite the same enthusiasm and refuses to give me a paid job. But, as such desirable places to work, the world's most stylish companies can get away with generously offering the opportunity to work for free. As I have yet to compose a convincing argument as to why I deserve to be paid, I have graciously accepted such an offer and have tentatively begun my foray into fashion.

Working for a company on the outskirts of London, I now spend four hours a day crammed inside commuter trains with nothing better to do than ponder the world of fashion. Hence my blog and this: the first entry of my (somewhat sardonic) diary of life in a fashion office.