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Odelia Kaly Headshot

When You Wish Upon a Star

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I can't remember a time in my life when fashion and art were not a part of it. That's not an exaggeration, and may or may not have something to do with my short-term memory loss issues. When I was three, I was supposedly telling my mom what to wear (how I did this, I don't know) and had a pretty darn good sense of color too, also according to my mother. At age six, I used my first sewing machine, and my friend Lola and I started hand-sewing shirts on the weekends, just for kicks. I've got tons of appalling and embarrassingly bad sketches from when I was in elementary school stashed in a drawer. It was all good fun -- I took a hand-sewing class after school for a semester once, drew some pictures in my free time, but it wasn't the focus of my life. Then came the summer before seventh grade, my first summer at the Fashion Institute of Technology. That might have been one of those turning points in my (short) life when I was like, "By golly, I know what I wanna do when I grow up!" I went back the next summer and focused on my drawing and painting skills and spent a ridiculous amount of time preparing for the LaGuardia High School admissions exam, which entailed hours of making art. All of my hard work paid off, and by the middle of eighth grade, I was on my way to completing my five-year plan (oh yes, you read that correctly. This is the very plan I had been following since age 10). Towards the end of my last year of middle school, I started my fashion blog, and ever since it's been one of the main focuses of my life. I took two more classes this past summer at FIT so I could learn how to sew and make patterns, and I've got two sewing machines and two mannequins in my forever-cluttered apartment. Every day at school, I do art for an hour and a half, and when I come home, I blog. I've got it all planned out: get an internship at a magazine or a brand, become discovered as a young talent, finish high school, go to college and take a semester or a year abroad in Paris, all while slowly building my own brand, so that by the time I'm 21, I've had it made. Is this unrealistic? Maybe a little. Is it normal for me to have my whole life planned out at age 14? No.

I definitely see the risks in having a plan such as mine. There are many, I'll tell you that much. The first problem that I face is that I'm overworking myself as a teenager. I look around me and see all my friends having a blast, just bein' kids. Then there's me, writing two articles a week for two different websites, updating my blog, reading magazines and drawing sketches during my free periods -- that's actually just making me tired, thinking about it. I feel as though I'm missing out on experiencing the quintessential life of a teenager. But the conflict there is that if I don't do all these things, my plan won't work. How do I expect to get an internship at Phillip Lim this summer if I haven't got any experience? This is the mind that I have to live with. I just keep piling things on because I think I'll have the time to do them, when I won't. I'll buy a new magazine when I've got 10 more at home that I haven't so much as opened, or I'll begin a sewing endeavor that I'll give myself a week to complete, when in reality I won't start it until a month later. And then there's the other part of my brain, the non-fashion part, that wants me to be intelligent and well-rounded, that gives me all these additional dumb ideas. Here's a perfect example: the other day I was reading Jane Eyre, and the beautiful language used in the book made me think, "You know what would be great? Reading a dictionary." I was dead serious. Consider yourselves lucky that you're not as crazy as I am.

You may be thinking, "What an ignorant little girl, thinking all her dreams will come true. She's in for a big shock when she grows up." I'm fully aware that it's really difficult to make things happen the way you want them to. There are some people who work towards their dreams, and they make it. There are others who give up, and they don't get where they wanted to be. I think that if I try hard enough, it'll work out. I'm not like Monica from the television show Friends, who flips out if things don't go according to plan. I'm OK with getting somewhere the roundabout way, as long as I make it there eventually. I feel like you're still skeptical. I can prove to you that there are some determined people out there that are successful in the fashion industry at a young age. Let's bring up Alexander Wang. He launched his first full womenswear collection at age 24 after moving to New York from California to attend Parsons and dropping out his sophomore year. "Alexander Wang" is now a household name (depending on what household you're in), and he's only 27. Here's another example: Alexander McQueen, a legend at age 40. Those are some pretty young guys. People tend to think others that are younger than them to be inferior, but in the words of Haemon, from Sophocles' Antigone, "If am young, do not look at my years but what I do." In the fashion industry, it's less about how old you are and more about how talented you are. When I sent out emails to different brands to see if they'd let me into their shows during New York Fashion Week, I told them how old I was, and I actually got to attend a show. Nowadays, everything is more accessible because of technology and the Internet and such things that there are so many doors just waiting to be opened. There's no excuse for someone like me not to try to succeed, if this is really what I want to do. But that last phrase right there brings me to my final problem. How am I to know if this is really what I want to do?

Let's just say I follow my little procedure and nothing goes wrong (yeah, right). Let's skip ahead in the future to when I'm at the end of my plan, at age 21. What if somewhere along the way I discover that I want to be doing something else? My English teacher told us that for years, her dream was to be a journalist, and she succeeded in fulfilling her dream. One day she realized that she didn't want to do it anymore, and became a high school English teacher, the one thing she was sure she would never be when she was in high school. That scares me a little. Does that mean that I'll become an accountant? If so, let me correct my previous statement: that scares me a lot. The wonderful thing about fashion is that everyone is a hybrid of a few different things. There's blogger-designers, model-filmmakers, even the doctor-blogger-model-who-designs-jewelry-in-her-free-time-er. Right now, I can't really see myself doing anything else, but if it came down to it, I know for a fact that I won't be going in the opposite direction and suddenly want to become a mathematician, or a biochemist, or a poet. There's just a certain beauty in clothing and art that I can never get over, because it's always changing. There's always something new. I get bored easily, so maybe that's why I could never work with something that's always the same. If I change my focus, chances are fashion is one step ahead of me and has already changed itself.