Other Views, Other
Voices...HOW TO GET INVITED TO
A NEW YORK FASHION SHOW
This article is sponsored by Citadel Security:
"Gatekeepers" of the New York Shows.
We all know that
with hard, deceptive work and a good dose of moxie it's possible to get over on
the world, at least temporarily. The New York Times 'The City' section article
"No Invitation? No Problem!" reveals a whole industry of such hard workers
where gate crashing is an art you can learn in a course at The Learning Annex
(how New Age to offer a curriculum ranging from gate crashing to Deepak Chopra,
everything you need for this life and after.) I almost admire this kind of
cleverness and drive as long as it is motivated by some true purpose: true
purpose may be to serve your own career but it should also contribute something
to the industry. The career gate crashers are disturbing when they only take
and never give back, there for themselves and not the industry.
Ultimately it is our works that carry us through and if your work does not
legitimately give you reason to be there, then you are taking the place of
someone who does. But that's the rub. Let's say you are the next Marc Jacobs,
young, talented, charming. Or a budding Guy Trebay, Eric Wilson, Cathy Horyn,
Robin Givhan, with bon mots bursting in your brain. Or the next Anna Wintour,
Grace Coddington, or Andre Leon Talley. But you have no connections and no idea
how to get them. You want to get IN, into the industry, into the fashion shows.
How do you do it? Below is a guide, a kind of "how to." But be ready to back up
your endeavor with hard work, talent and time. All others need not apply. This
is not an overnight miracle. BUT, hook up with the right guardian angels and
you may find yourself in some pretty magical places.
Perhaps it sounds silly but the first step is, get a job, any
kind of job. Whatever area of the fashion business you are interested in, find
work as close to that dream as possible. Do not limit yourself in what you do.
Persevere. Work in the industry is a foot in the door. And with that foot in
the door you meet people, make connections, learn about the business, discover
mentors, hear about other job opportunities -- even get invitations to fashion
shows and parties. Andre Leon Talley started his career sweeping the floors of
Andy Warhol's Interview offices. Marc Jacobs worked at Charivari while
attending high school. Anna Wintour assisted Carrie Donovan at Harper's Bazaar.
If you can, find a company with growth potential. A low level job can
turn into a high level career with that same company. Admire Prada, Rodarte,
Calvin Klein, Zac Posen, Dolce & Gabbana but cannot get work in the design
room? Get a job in one of their stores. Want to be a stylist? Find a
photographer and develop imagery together to build a portfolio from which you
can get paying work. Or assist another stylist from whom you can learn. Want to
be a photographer? Go to school. If you cant afford a full course load
then take classes. And use YouTube.
Photographers I know, working
photographers, use YouTube videos to learn how to use software like Photoshop.
Then shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Offer model agencies to test-shoot new
models to help build their and your portfolios. Try and borrow clothes from
young designers who then can use the photographs for their own promotion. Be
there at the ground level and perhaps you can become part of the team as
success comes to you all. There are many different areas in the industry; work
in one may lead to work in another. Become friends with fashion industry folks
using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. It's "not
about mainstream thinking" says Mary Loving a twenty-eight year veteran of the
fashion and public relations industry. "To be successful you have to be
creative and bring a new ingredient to the business." That new ingredient may
very well be, your Self.
INTERN OR VOLUNTEER:
finding a job is difficult and a paid internship is not available then find an
unpaid internship. Use job sites like Indeed.com, Simply Hired or
Experience.com; or dedicated intern sites like Internship.com. Google
internships and see what comes up. Interested in media? Try mediabistro.com.
Cold call. Especially in the months immediately prior to Fashion Week, there
may be a need for extra help. Interested in Public Relations and Marketing? Try
PR companies. Interested in design try fashion houses. Production? Talk to the
companies who put on the shows and serve as backstage support, offer your
services as a volunteer. Even though you are offering up your services for no
pay, make sure you have an up-to-date resume and any work samples to show why
you should be selected. And if there is nothing available now, they will have
something to keep on file for future. Follow up, to keep those connections
alive, by checking in or sending updated information and work samples. Stay on
their radar. Work hard, be responsible, be reliable, and what was for no pay
can turn into a paid job.
START A BLOG:
Start your own
project. If you write, create your own website or fashion blog. Or use site
services such as WordPress or BlogSpot or Tumblr or Pinterest or Fancy. With a
blog you can join with other fashion blogs and gain industry exposure by
belonging and contributing content to such network sites as Independent Fashion
Bloggers. If you dont write particularly well make it visual. Take your
own photographs or hook up with a similarly ambitious and talented young
photographer. Write brief captions to your photographs or simply title them or
dont do either. As you wish. Come from what you love and put your heart,
passion and hard work into it. Promote the blog on your social networks and
learn about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to gain a wider audience. Some
well-established fashion gurus only post to their blog and then tweet the links
and simultaneously post to Facebook. Build it and they will come. And, there
are important bloggers who not only attend fashion shows the world over but sit
front row; photography bloggers who now work for major magazines and shoot
major designer, advertising campaigns.
Find out what's going on. The bible of all bibles in the fashion world is the
Fashion Calendar (212-289-0420 or Fashioncalendar.com). Any event worth its
weight will be listed on the Fashion Calendar with contact names and numbers.
If you have a chunk of change to spare ($492) you can subscribe to this
venerable bi-weekly publication. (Play our 'Masters of Fashion' video interview
with publisher of Fashion Calendar Ruth Finley: click here to start
video) If your budget is more limited lookonline's
DFR: Daily Fashion Report
blog and website offers good information in exchange for your support for a
very reasonable cost ($59 contribution for 1 year) - as well other features to
keep you in the know. Supplement this with other sources like
Fashionweekdaily.com, Style.com, WWD, available on the newsstand and online
(which will always contain calendars of fashion shows but not contact numbers,)
New York Magazine, cable fashion show reports, and hundreds of fashion bloggers
of varying quality.
Many events will be by invitation only. No
invitation, no access. If you are a legitimate member of the press you can
request coverage of the event but this may also be limited to amount of press
and to where you can go. Legitimate means your work, writings, photos, video
footage, appear regularly in a venue or several venues. It could be your own
venue. If you are an employee of standing either in the retail, magazine,
internet, or television worlds, you may get an invitation but even this is no
guarantee depending on space. If you are not "important" enough to be invited
check with your fellow workers, your boss or your network of connections for an
The good news is often times, especially at fashion
shows, arriving early with an invitation can get you in. Be warned however, the
more well-known designers may also have a list of names at the door. Sometimes
they can even check for I.D. (FashionGPS is now handling invites to the shows
at Lincoln Center and can match photos with names on invites.) If you are not
on the list you are not in the door, invitation or not. As a last resort you
can go to the event. Extra invitations are hard to come by, you may even risk a
reputation as a gate crasher but it is a good way to meet people in the
industry. You might, during fashion week, find free passes to parties being
held at clubs around town. This is the beginning of your networking.
Also during fashion week there is sometimes standing room access if you are
willing to wait in line for everyone else with invitations to be let in first
and take the chance there is room left over. You have to first get to the
check-in table. If you can get in the door and get to the check-in table, make
your case for why they should even give you standing room access. If you can
make that happen, you may get in to see the show. Many times you would be
surprised how many big shows you can get into if you are willing to just make
the effort and show up! And finally, if you can spend an entire week at the
shows you can try becoming a volunteer with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. They
recruit quite a number of volunteers to help run the shows Send a request to
don't wait for the last minute!
Fortunately or unfortunately connections count for a lot in any world and
especially the world of fashion. Make a powerful enough network for yourself
however and it can even compensate a lack of talent. If you are not the
daughter, son, niece, nephew, friend, you must make your own connections. If
you are considering school attend a school in Manhattan, the capitol of
American fashion; F.I.T, Parsons, L.I.M., School of Visual Arts. Go out.
Go to clubs, art openings, hot restaurants (even just for a drink at the bar,)
parties, fashion shows, any industry functions you can get into. Meet people.
Get yourself on mailing lists, become active on social networking sites
frequented by industry leaders. Be seen enough and there are those who will
invite you because they want you to be seen with them. Of course you must look
fabulous, fabulous enough to stand out from the crowd. Make a statement; a
fashion statement followed up with sincere hard work. It is the only true path
to making your mark in this business.
- by Laurie
About Laurie: She created Rolling
Stone's first fashion section, pioneering its style, format, and publication
schedule. Laurie would combine fashion with various pop culture figures
(musicians, movie stars, and sports icons), a concept still used by the
magazine today. At American Vogue as the first Style Editor, Laurie was in
charge of both the "View" and "Living" sections, overseeing stories on fashion,
home design, decor, and the elite personalities of those worlds. Laurie is the
first and only Vogue editor to successfully handle the "View" and "Living"
sections simultaneously. Moving to Allure, Laurie had to be replaced at Vogue
by four people. Laurie Schechter has also reported and styled fashion stories
for EIle, Interview, Conde Nast's Traveler, Spin, Harper's Bazaar, and Town and
Country magazines. She has done trend forecasting for various major fashion
retailers, footwear companies, and television programs.
DFR: Daily Fashion Report:
"New" 2013 Best Dressed List