Sunday, 20 September 2009

Clothes, clothes and more clothes...

So what exactly is the role of a fashion intern? What do you do?
The amount of times I have been asked those very same questions is endless - it's time to shed some light.

You have probably all seen the Devil Wears Prada - and if you havn't... well shame on you! but even French Vogue (and I can also tell you British Vogue) do not have a fashion cupboard with the same surreal quality as the film - let's leave that to Hollywood shall we?
The Parisian version, shall we say, a little more humble. With a somewhat terrifying polaroid of Carine dressed in her signature furs pinned to the door, and a handwritten "Adults Only" beneath it - it is safe to say that for anyone, this room can be somewhat of a daunting place. But then the door opens, and the smell of Chanel, Dior, Hermès and all things couture invades your every being... that is until you see the mountain of returns piling up infront of the window. Yes, my friends, they didn't show that in the film now did they?

The real deal.

Time for some theory:
The main aim of a fashion story is essentially to sell clothes. As a fashion editor, you are still a journalist and thus your job is to "spread the word" - the only difference being that your 'gospel' is fashion. Therefore, designers and PR companies come to you to advertise their products- to get the word out about their latest collections. Et voila! The fashion story is born! Editors get inspiration from Look Books and fashion shows, and depending on the theme of their story - they then select the pieces they want to use.
Now you didn't think that they bought these clothes did you?
The next part is what makes a fashion intern - as lowly a position as this is - extremely valuable to the magazine. For each shoot, pieces are called in, whether this be from PR or in-house and become the rail upon rail of fashion paradise. The editor then makes their "choix" as they say in gay Paris and "les non-choix" await in the wings praying for a chance to win some limelight on those glossy pages.
So, off go "les choix" (accompanied by a few "non-choix" just in case) with the editor and their team for the shoot. And this is where the magic happens - fashion comes to life.

It's when the clothes return from the shoot that the role of an intern becomes... a little... horrific. Suddenly the Givenchy dress that hung so beautifully on the hangers and model is now another piece of clothing in a bag, labelled up and ready to send back to its original habitat. Every single piece of item that has been called-in MUST be described and listed, then folded and wrapped in tissue paper before it can be sent back and this is where the Devil gets his kicks. Imagine a magazine as large as Vogue, where there are maybe 3 shoots in one week, with at least 100 items of clothing each and that's not even including the accessories.
That is a. lot. of. clothes.
Add to that the phone calls from PR's asking where "la ceinture Chanel" or "le petit sac en poulain violet par Nina Richi" is and your heartbeat has risen by 200% as you delve into the mountain of returns to find them. Now, that is fashion darling.

So there you have it in a nutshell, the daily routine of an intern. Of course, you get to assist shoots and after showing your capability can be asked to be involved in selecting the pieces etc but for the most part, returns are your life. To get to the top you have to work your way up the ladder, or in the fashion world, that Louboutin stiletto heel.

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