Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Diary of a fashion intern - Day 1 "The Scary Sunday"

Since I'm not hanging out at London Fashion Week this season and hence don't really have anything to show you, I thought I might share with you about what I am doing instead of LFW.

The truth is, I am doing LFW but from the inside… the less glamorous inside that does not involve hanging out at Somerset House or dressing up. In fact, my official 'uniform' these days is all black. Here is why…

Do you remember a few months back I wrote about quitting my job and bla bla?
Well after I did that, I spent the following weeks applying for every single internship under the sun. Luckily, my timing was good and I started the process as the brands were heading into the SS2012 season.

So I scored myself an internship with a pretty-big-deal brand and was absolutely over the moon about it. The first (official) day was set for Sunday the 18th - smack bang in the middle of LFW… 

As it generally happens with me, I over-committed myself and promised Look At Me 'x' number of street style shots from Day 2 of LFW. So the day before my big internship I was hanging out at Somerset House snapping away the fashionistas… after spending a good 8 hours running after people and chasing celebrities from venue to venue, my feet were killing me and I spent the night feeling sorry for myself whilst editing the photos so that I could meet my deadlines.

When I finally got to bed, I couldn't sleep.. guess what was bothering me??!! WHAT SHOULD I WEAR TOMORROW?????? I mean think about it.. I'm an accountant.. going into fashion.. whilst being slightly older, shorter and less savvy than my potential co-interners. Intimidated? Me? Noooo…. ok, may be a little.

So the next day, I got up early, got ready and headed for the showroom - I felt like it was the first day of school! I also felt terrible about missing the hoo-hah at the Mulberry presentation which was happening literally down the street from my new 'job'.

The first thing I saw when I arrived at the destination is a huge bright room full of stuff! I was like a fat kid in a candy store - bags, shoes, scarves, wallets - you name it! I felt like I had just discovered Narnia… except I was finally 'out of the closet' and loud and proud legit fashionista.. interning in fashion'n'all…

It would be an understatement to say I was delusional about what a fashion internship involves. I thought I would head in for a couple of hours, hang out with the cool kids, look at some clothes and then head to the afternoon LFW shows (even brought my SLR camera in the bag). 

Errrm think again! 

The first thing that I saw when the initial shock had worn off were three massive bags that had just arrived from NYC… hot off the press so to say. The bags contained samples of the new collection… so the next 3 hours were spent steaming, labelling and hanging the clothes in the correct order etc etc. 

There were 6 other interns working in the showroom, all had been with the label for  different length of time.. mostly fashion students. Some were there just for the couple of weeks to help out with fashion weeks, whilst others had been there for a number of months.

The first thing I noticed about the interns is that they weren't at all glamourously dressed as I had expected them to be (based on my extenssive knowledge of The City and The Devil Wears Prada). Most of them were dressed in jeans and converse shoes… obviously because it was a Sunday and because we had to unpack, steam and sort the clothes. Obviously.. I didn't get the memo.

At first I was picking up every sample and admiring the beauty, appreciating the fabric and thinking how lucky I was to be surrounded by all these beautiful clothes. By the third hour every other dress was just a piece of fabric that had to be dealt with and I stopped noticing all the wonderful things about them.

By about lunch time it became clear that it was highly unlikely that I would see any of the shows that afternoon or even make it to Somerset House. The rest of the day was spent studying the new collection and listening to the 'head honcho' of the office talk about each of the pieces and how they fit in with the rest of the collection and how best to market it to different clients etc. It was like being back at uni… but amazingly interesting… I was mostly fascinated by the fact that the poor 'head honcho' probably hadn't slept for a number of days during NYFW and yet was so with it and spoke for hours non-stop and knew so much about so much.

Every now and again the team shared their opinions on the pieces and there was a lively discussion. The interns were mostly quiet.. taking all of the information in and trying not to interrupt the flow of the evening with stupid questions. 

I'm not even going to pretend that giving up a big fat corporate job and becoming the newest kid on the block is easy. It was crap. I am used to being listened to and knowing what I am talking about, to people respecting my opinion and being interested in what I have to say. There in that showroom no one cares if you are a doctor or a lawyer or whatever… if you don't know about fashion then you are at the bottom of the food chain. So I pretended to be mute and spent the rest of the day trying to absorb as much as I could about everything that was happening around me.

The day finished at about 9 or 10pm.. Im not even sure.. I was delirious by the end of it and was only capable of dragging myself to the nearest McDonald's to celebrate my survival of the first day.. well almost survival if you don't count me stabbing myself in the eye with the corner of one of the sheets in the lookbook. My eye went all red and started watering and mascara was running down my cheek as I was frantically trying to 'blink myself better'. Since no one saw what had actually happened, a few people seemed perplexed when they saw me 'crying' - they exchanged inquisitive looks but decided not to ask the obvious question as (judging by the looks on their faces) they'd decided that they couldn't have possibly upset me that much since no one really spoke to me much that day in the first place. I'm pretty sure that almost 90% of the people in the room didn't even know my name which was quite obvious because they referred to you as 'daahling' or 'hun' or 'lovely' if they need to speak to you or get your attention. I thought that was actually quite endearing since thinking back to my corporate job, it would be days before I would actually start properly speaking to the new interns at all…mostly because i didn't know their names and partly because they all looked quite scared. At least I got called 'nice' names :)

To be continued ...xx



What a great little write-up! I was thoroughly amused. Good luck with your internship! I admire your courage to do what you did about your corporate job to pursue something that you love. Kudos!

the nyanzi report said...

Wow, that's quite a story. I hope you are fitting in well and wish you all the best!

We miss you at fashion week.