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! 

 

another #girlbook

I always judge a book by it's cover, let's get that straight right now, so when Lauren Millian Bass' leggy, Hermes-y cover popped up in my Amazon suggestions, I was interested. Since I'm at that quarter-life-crisis age, I've been drawn to these type of career inspiring books for women that seem to be popping up as of late. (Loved #Girlboss, and Leandra Medine's Manrepeller: Seeking Love. Finding Overalls, and CAN'T WAIT for DVF's new one, already pre-ordred that shit.) 

Lauren's a serious business woman who most definitely orders the "Business Woman Special" (points if you get that reference) for lunch, starting a successful winery at the ripe age of 24. She then moved on to become a partner at a venture capital firm specializing in young technology startups. And while her fierce pursuit of success in the male-dominted business world has brought her amazing accolades and plenty of money, at the end, I was left wondering if I could ever be so driven as to put so much of my personal life on the back burner. 

A great read for any girl looking for some career-boosting straight talk. 

Do You Know What Couture Really Means?

More overused than headshots in Hollywood, the word Couture means a lot more than 'Juicy' to the French government, who reserves the right to appoint only the most qualified fashion designers to a special council, Le Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Inductees must be invited, and only then may they operate with a couture business license, and show at Couture fashion week. The list is light on Americans, Ralph Rucci begin the only US designer still in business, but currently only showing Chado Ralph Rucci, the ready to wear line. Some names that you'd still recognize include BalenciagaAlexis MabilleLanvin, and my personal favorite Giambattista Valli

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Freelance to Fulltime

I've been on the freelance styling grind since I was 19, when I started in NYC. That's eight years of steaming, hanging, pinning, tying, re-assuring, nodding, and chasing down paychecks. Styling in Hollywood is everything you thought it'd be from watching The Rachel Zoe Project…. times 10, and minus the 'glamour'.

I'll tell ya what- We who've assisted the best and biggest, do NOT run around town in 5 inch Loubs and Range Rovers, it's not physically or, more importantly, financially, possible. We stuffed our 2001 sedans full to the roof with garment bags "Sorry Officer, I know I can't see, but I have to get these back to Gucci NOW!". We blew through red lights chasing our bosses who wouldn't divulge the address to which we were speeding for a fitting "No! You just have to drive faster!!!". Our 2001 sedans have even broken down in the Neiman's parking garage, 20 minutes before a fitting. We worked 15 hour days with no lunch, for weeks on end (but our skinny jeans fit!), only to chase a paycheck for several months. Unfortunately, that part is a truth that is impossible to deal with for me. 

This year, I have been transitioning from working freelance jobs, which are undoubtedly more exciting and high profile than any full time styling job will ever be, to trying to land a secure, creative, DAILY gig with a weekly (!) paycheck. I wouldn't trade my experiences in freelance for the world, but as they say… the grass is always greener when you can afford a gardener. 

LA > NYC < LA

Two months in New York, is there anything better? Yes- two month in New York during the holidays, and having solid work the whole time! I was very lucky to be home on the east coast from Thanksgiving through New Years, and despite the ridiculous amounts of snow, I got a lot done! Met babies, was in a wedding, filmed a TV show pilot with Colin Quinn and Jerry Seinfeld, made a feature film with my mentor- Michael Bevins (costume designer of Amazon's Alpha House). Now I'm back in the LA groove... taking meetings and de-frosting! 

Check out my trip below ...