As a stock boy working at Express at age 19, I always fantasized about attending a fashion show or styling a model. As the years progressed, I went into retail management and worked at malls across America. I then began to fantasize about attending Fashion Week or even what seemed a loftier dream... working for a designer brand and attending Fashion Week as part of the crowd. Fast forward to today; with hard work and determination I got my dream assignment: working for a brand I love, attending New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks. Everything is happening and the best part is I am not just following the crowd but I work for an incredible brand and with people I appreciate and admire. So now that I am living my dream, why would anyone want to burst my bubble?
What I didn't anticipate or fantasize about was a Mean Girls group of fashionistas that made the entire experience a bit of a letdown. There were people in London who didn't answer my texts but in New York are quick to ask me for a favor. I was greeted in Milan by one acquaintance who quickly turned on his heels and simply looked at me with a blank stare to inquire "Oh, it's you... what are you doing here?"
I had flashbacks to when I first started working on Madison Avenue and I felt quite intimidated by a coworker who used to tell me "I only buy my diamonds at Graff, my chocolate at Godiva and my platinum at Cartier," only to find out once he left the company that he was a miserable man who was sharing a small apartment and the creditors call after him daily. I was chatting with a friend about this confusing paradox that some of the most pretentious and judgmental people in fashion are often the loneliest and shallow when she offered me the greatest insight; she said "they don't call it the Emperor's new clothes for nothing, it could've easily been the Emperor's new horse or carriage." Fashion has a strange way of warping some people's self perception. A perfect example would be Galliano's racist rant or Lagerfeld calling Adele fat, neither of these men are physically attractive and although extremely talented, I would rather wake up next to Adele any day, and I'm gay!
There was an incident at Zac Posen's show in New York where Jennifer Eymere slapped the face of a public relations manager who was being rude to her mother. At first, I thought how violent and unnecessary of her to hit anyone but after being subjected to some vulgar behavior myself by a couple of fashion PR's I fully understand and applaud. (Jennifer, if you would ever like to attend a show with me and slap a few more, I have got your back!). I also heard of a prestigious editor being quite rude to a 15-year-old who was just being exposed to the fashion world for her first time. It is bad enough to be a nasty person in such a superficial world, but to a young woman who is in such a vulnerable stage of growth??!! Shame on you and please remind yourself that you have not cured cancer or brought peace to a nation at war.
Fashion should be fun or an appreciation of a craft, even possibly admiration for a designer's vision. Unknown to the outside world, it is also extremely hard work. The fashion world has the ability to project beauty into an abrasive world, however for those who have been consumed by their own insecurity, it is an elitist and divisive road. If Neiman Marcus can partner with Target and designers are beating down the doors to H&M then will the fashion snobs follow suit by opening their minds to a more supportive and even collaborative society?
There are of course exceptions to these bad examples such as when I witnessed a top model flying from Milan to Paris stop dead in her tracks with handlers in tow to help a young girl who was not sure how to find the train. This is beauty inside and out. Another positive moment came as I met the most elegantly dressed man from London who could have turned his nose up at me as I was wearing quite a sad look (I'd run out of clean clothes and was down to a red and blue checkered shirt, houndstooth pants with orange and black shoes, tragic hipster mustache included-scary) but he maintained the most respectful and civilized conversation followed by an email saying it was nice to meet me. This is the fashion world at its finest.
Having called out the best and worst of behaviors witnessed, I still feel lucky and fortunate to work in an industry that I love. It reminds me of the summer before moving to New York to pursue my dream and I watched The Devil Wears Prada at the theater and during the final sequence, she leaves the hunk and goes back to her roots --the whole time I was thinking "NO, don't do it, don't give up! Look at what you are losing." Needless to say my next assignment is to open an outlet store for three months and I couldn't be more proud or excited.