How to Break into Fashion

Be really, REALLY sure that you love it, because it ain't easy, it ain't (always) glamorous, and most fashion people are effing crazy.

Still want to work in fashion? Fine, but you've been warned. 

They say "It's all who you know" and I agree, but let me take that one step further- "It's all who you know to get yourself in the door, and what you can do to keep you in the door." I don't care who your father is, if you can't hack it, you won't last. How did I get my start?

Find yourself a Fairy Godfather 

As a sophomore in college in New York City, I was very fortunate to have a fairy godfather enter my life. Michael Bevins was a real estate client of my mother's, who is an extremely talented costume designer for theater and film. He also happened to be a pattern maker for The Row. I also happened to have been obsessed with the Olsens since Passport to Paris, and jumped at the opportunity when he asked if I would like to intern for The Row. It was a new operation at the time, only two seasons deep into the line, with a handful of employees, myself being the first intern. I worked in the tiny design studio in the garment district two days a week, for nothing but the experience. I wasn't being paid, but I did get to play with vintage Alaia, rare Balenciaga (a shearling coat that weighed more than Ashley), and attend meetings at the offices of Solbiati (manufacture of some of the finest fabrics in the world) amongst others. It was the golden era of Olsen style- the witchy, super tall Balenciaga boots that MK wore constantly, dozens of fur coats, and all the vintage Cartier jewelry. I got to see how a piece was produced from inspiration to fabric sourcing, pattern making, first draft samples, second draft samples, production, to market meetings with buyers. I learned about product licensing, design, and the chain of command (designer, technical designer, financial controller, pattern maker, sample maker, sales executive, etc...) It was exciting to hear stories from The Girls upon their return from Paris Fashion Week, and how Karl loved the fur capelet that Mary-Kate wore his cruise collection party. It was a bizarre parallel, as we were all excited 19-year olds basking in one's Karl Kompliment, but I was a broke college student, and they were billionaires. I absorbed every moment I could, and when it was time to part ways and finish up the school year, I knew I had achieved something really special, that I would one day write about in my book (as soon as I figure out how to get around all the non-disclosure agreements I've signed). 

Take a Risk and cold-email

A shot from a Hollywood Hills shoot with Emily Vancamp

A shot from a Hollywood Hills shoot with Emily Vancamp

So your foot is in the door, now what? 

In 2011, after six years of working in fashion and film in New York, I decided that I needed to move to Los Angeles, where big budget things were happening. I knew no one. I moved in with my gracious aunt and uncle in Newport Beach, and was quickly connected to a colleague of my uncle's, wife (sounds complicated, but you should mine contacts anyway that you can). She was the head of PR for Stella McCartney, and agreed to have lunch with me. Evidently she saw something in me, and asked me to make her a list of the celebrity stylists that I wanted to work with. She laughed when I opened my notebook and had already done this. She provided me with some email addresses, and I took it upon myself to cold-email each one. This is a very important skill to master if you want to work in the entertainment industry. You must make yourself sound smart, capable, eager (but not creepy), like you know what you're talking about, and are worth having around. A week later was my first day of work for Petra Flannery, on the set of a Revlon commercial starring Emma Stone. Petra hadn't even met me in advance, I spoke to her assistant briefly on the phone the night before, and met her for the first time in the dark parking lot of her Beverly Hills studio at 5am. We jammed her Range Rover full of racks and raced off to the rose gardens in Pasadena for the shoot. For three years I worked consistently between LA and New York, assisting several major stylists, and doing styling jobs on my own as I cultivated a network of fellow assistants, agents, and producers that I still rely on today. And boy do I have some good stories for it (stay tuned for that time Justin Timberlake high-fived me backstage at The Hollywood Palladium after the Grammys)

Find a mentor

Be fearless and reach out to people who you want to work with

Work harder than everyone else

Take what you've learned and do your own thing

I'm summarizing my complicated, hilarious, and terrifying journey (which I am still on, by the way) to hopefully provide you with some insight and inspiration if you too once watched The Rachel Zoe Project and thought "I want to do that!". I've glazed over the fact that most of the very successful 'fashion people' you will encounter, are unfortunately, bat-shit crazy, and generally unhappy. I've been burned more than I've been helped, which is why I feel compelled to let you know that it doesn't have to be that way- you CAN be nice and work in fashion and be a boss bitch- without being a bitch. Stay focused, stay centered, and never forget to treat people well, because people always remember how you treated them. One day, that assistant whom you snapped your fingers at in front of Robert Downey Jr., will have her own shit going on, and she will write a book, and she will tell that story. (Again, as soon as I hire legal counsel to navigate the NDA's that I've signed.)

If you'd like to know more about about how to get started in the fashion industry shoot me an email or comment down below! 

 

Are you a fashion girl from a small town?

I come from a small town on the Jersey Shore. I'm something of a local celebrity, simply because I have met Justin Timberlake. I recently sat down with a glass of sav blac, and Sweet Home Alabama was on ABC Family. I've seen it before, (like, 6 times at least), but this time it really was kind of like watching myself... a blonder, bitchier, shallower, more successful version of myself. 

I don't think I've accomplished nearly enough yet- let's get that straight. I'm not like, "Where's my naked cover of Paper Magazine?" Kardashian-proud of myself, but yea- I left town and did some shit. 

Fun fact: This clip stars Melanie Lynskey, with whom I made the film "Hello, I Must Be Going" between this movie and her role in Ever After- you can believe I fanned out when I met her.

I went to school in New York, worked there as an assistant costume designer for film for several years thereafter, then picked up and moved to LA. I didn't know a (professional) soul there, and moved in with my wonderful aunt and uncle in Newport Beach. Not a bad deal. I then got wrangled into the crazy world of celebrity styling (The Rachel Zoe project was NOT an exaggeration, guys) I did some amazing work, and worked with photographers, stylists, and celebrities that I've admired all my life. 

Then I moved back to New Jersey. Initially for a job opportunity that didn't pan out due to logistics (aka a 70 mile drive, for a very well known high-end e-tailer) Now what? I was back to my small beach town life, and couldn't help but feel I had outgrown most of the people and places I had known all my life. The song Brandy makes me cry because it's what my life would've been had I never left. Just a harbor town girl throwin whiskey down for the local sailors... Brandy... you're fine girl... what gooooood wife you would be.... 

Anyway... Reese's character in Sweet Home Alabama, left town and became a successful fashion designer in *exotic* New York City, and, upon her return home, is pretty much an asshole. She exerts all of her energy denying her small town roots, up-keeping the veil that she is a New Yorker worthy of marrying her politico-socialite finance. Of course, it is impossible to ignore your roots- she learns the err of her ways, embraces her southern heritage, and falls back in love with that hot guy from high school who turned out to be a millionaire selling lighting glass (?) wtf. {If anyone I went to high school with is now a millionaire selling, I don't know... drift wood from hurricane damage... please raise your hand and make a dinner reservation}

I guess what I saw in the movie this time around is that it's so important not to loose sight of the real world, and to appreciate and embrace your roots. Professionally, being from a different background than your co-workers or clients, should be viewed as a strength and embraced. 

In the world of fashion- people take themselves way too seriously, and I make it a personal goal of mine to break that seriousness whenever possible. I've cracked jokes as an assistant on shoots with major celebrities because everyone was being too uptight- and you know what? It created a mood of levity that created better work. 

So, fashion people- stop being assholes and start having more fun.