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! 

 

The Assistant Files: Beverly Hills

Great stylist assistants are damn near impossible to find. Now that I've had assistants myself, I know just how good I, and a few others were. One such brave soul is Masha Ossovskaya, my sample-sized counterpart (bitch always got to try on the Givenchy) on many a 12 hour shoot and hellish fitting. Throughout our time as assistants to the best celebrity stylists in Hollywood, Masha and I endured it all together, and thus developed a timeless bond of Hollywood veterans (who sometimes have flashbacks)...

Get Emma the size 37 Louboutins and Zoe the size 38 Choos!!!!

WHO was supposed to do the pull at Neiman's for Faith?!?! 

WHERE is the Bottega belt for Salma?!?! 

Someone go get my dress from The Row from dry cleaning at The Peninsula!!!  

While I am now based in New York, Masha is still killing it in Hollywood, channeling her avant-garde style into fabulous editorials and chic red carpet looks. We recently caught up and reminisced about some of our crazy styling stories.

  • How did you get into celebrity styling?

To be honest it was a "right place at the right time" kind of thing, I had a friend who was assisting a big stylist and she called me the day before the Oscar's saying they needed an extra hand, and then I never really left.

  • Have you ever been starstruck by a client?

Not by a client, but I get totally starstruck by meeting fashion people. I once worked on a Tom Ford shoot and nearly thought I was going to faint in his presence.

  • Did you ever think something that your boss had pulled was awful, but had to play along?

Ha, yes...it always makes things a little awkward! I'm not the best at hiding my opinions but luckily I've been fortunate enough to work with people that appreciate that honesty. However, ultimately the final decision is theirs.

  • Sometimes, the assistant gets lucky and scores a ticket to a fashion show or event, tell me about your first NYFW experience.

My first fashion week experience was actually before I started styling. It was the Marc Jacobs F/W 2011 show and it was totally amazing. I remember the models stomping down the runway to Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People".  My friend happened to be working for the company at the time and managed to snag me a ticket.

  • What are your favorite designer, and jewelry showrooms to pull from?

KCD for clothes, but I love jewelry! There are so many great designer's out there it's hard to pick just one! I would say pulling from Broken English is my favorite because they have an amazing collection of designers and a very well curated vintage selection.

  • What was the best/coolest shoot location you've ever worked on, and what was it for?

Morocco, for a campaign with Rosie Huntington Whiteley.

  • Who are your favorite designers right now? 

Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci, his romantic, gothic, beautifully detailed pieces are the stuff of dreams. And I love what Alessandro Michele is doing at Gucci right now.

  • What blogs/magazines/sites do you read? 

Sites: Jean Stories, The Thick, Garance Dore, Into the Gloss. Magazines: W, Paris Vogue, Cr Fashion Book.

  • Did you always want to be a fashion stylist? For me, I watched the Rachel Zoe Project and literally said "I'm going to do that." I also said "Why is this girl Taylor ALWAYS complaining!? I'll take her job in 2 seconds!" Little did I know... that show was NOT an exaggeration! 

I always knew that I wanted to be in fashion but I didn't necessarily think that I would be a stylist, I interned at a magazine in San Francisco and when I moved to LA I started working in fashion pr. I always loved planning shoots and being on set so I started assisting a stylist on my off days and it was sort of a natural progression from there. 

  • Dream client? 

Diane Kruger

Check back soon for more from The Assistant Files!