Graduation survival guide: Part 2- The internship

Graduate Survival Guide

Congratulations in advance, you will at this point, have survived the hardest part- that first 3 months. After temping for mostly boring, corporate companies and completing truly mundane tasks for cold hard cash, you will now hopefully be gagging for something new, fun, and actually related to that degree you worked 3 years for and has got you into massive amounts of debt.

Your goals (as previously discussed) should have led you to apply for some internships. You could have gone for any old assistant role at any old company, and probably could have got it, or at least an interview, but we’re talking about the fashion industry here, and you need to give it your blood, sweat and (on the inside) tears before you earn that luxury.

The next 3-6 months will see you give your life, health and money to interning somewhere (so while you’re at it, make it a good company, won’t ya?) But don’t worry, it will harden you in ways you never thought possible, you’ll meet some crazy characters (some will become great friends, others… not so much), and you’ll learn a lot about yourself, life and the industry. In that, yes, like you thought from watching The Devil Wears Prada like a billion times, it can be a ruthless bitch, but it can also be fun, and sometimes even rewarding!

Here’s how to cope:

– Firstly, prepare yourself. Correct, you will not be saving lives here or trying to cure cancer, but you are going into one of the most competitive industries in the world to work in. Before you start, make sure you have:

1. A good wardrobe. You don’t have to spend hundreds here, just make sure you have a solid amount of neutral and black pieces to see you through, and prepare outfits in advance to save time in the morning. Oh, and remember to buy flats and trainers, you won’t want to be running around the city in heels.

2. Your travel situation sorted. Plan ahead.

3. Your finances in tack. You are not going to be paid (most likely) so make sure that you can realistically afford this. Whether that’s from continuing to temp on a Saturday (yes, it happens), holding down a bar job, or robbing your parents blind, you will need money in some way or another. Just don’t resort to crime, you’re not that desperate.

4. Good health, and I’m not just talking the hot bod from all that exercise. I mean, be prepared to work hard, and that your immunity and energy levels are at their highest peak. Fashion week looms, and it’s not to be taken lightly.

– Make lists: Whenever anyone asks you to do anything, say yes straight away, and write it down. Find out how urgent it is and prioritise.

– Talk to the other interns and make friends: You work better when there’s a positive energy around you, and you can be part of a team. Yes, the fashion industry is competitive, but you don’t have to be a complete bitch to compete, contrary to some beliefs. Think Lauren and Whitney*, be nice, and people will like you. As Rupaul recently observed, “Kindness is the new cool”.

*If you don’t know what this means then you don’t deserve this internship.

– Connect with your colleagues and managers on LinkedIn (after like, a month or so, when they actually know who you are).

– Don’t assume that you’ll walk into a job at the company. A lot of interns come and go, and there are never enough positions to go around. It’s fine, accept that you may not stay and just work hard. Something else will come along.

– Make the most of all opportunities: Help at fashion weeks and go to the events, these will enhance your experience.

– In the words of Kelly Cutrone, “If you have to cry, go outside”. Or just go to the loo.

– Always carry deodorant, make up, water and chewing gum.

And finally, needless to say really but in case you are completely clueless, don’t be a diva. Yes, you have just obtained an amazing degree, but you are no one, at the moment, to everyone who matters. Deal with it and stay humble.

If you need any further real-life advice, please find a previous post on summer interning here. 

And an amazing old Buzzfeed about Lauren and Whitney here.

Next week, the job hunt begins…

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A graduate survival guide: Part 1 – The first 3 months

Graduate Survival Guide

john lennon quote

About to graduate? Don’t panic! Seriously, now is not the time. In fact, it’s probably one of the worst times to panic in your life, ever. You don’t want to enter the big bad world of reality suffering from heart palpitations, anxiety and manic depression, trust me.

After just realising that it’s been nearly a whole year since I left university, and in that time, hitting definitely one of the lowest points in my life, but also all-time highs, I feel it’s my duty to tell you that despite all of the tragic tales, stories full of graduate-hate, and continued put-downs of graduates lurking around the internet or TV news, it will all in fact, be okay, so don’t get the graduate fear.

Here’s how to cope with the first 3 months of uni-aftermath:

Expectations:

You pack your bags and move home, sad it’s over, but a spring in your newly BA’d step. You think, “Oh my God, this will be amazing, I don’t pay rent again, I don’t have to wash up all the time, I have freedom again, I won’t argue with my parents because I’m a graduate now- I’m mature and intelligent and too good for that, I can see all of my old friends again, and catch up with my uni friends at least once a month, it’s going to be INCREDIBLE.”

Reality:

Your old friends now have new friends, and/ or boyfriends, full-time jobs and generally a whole life that hasn’t really included you all that much for the past 3 years. People forget to invite you to things because they still think you’re at uni. You don’t see your uni friends because they all live at other ends of the country and you can’t travel. You have no job, no money, nothing to do and nowhere to go. You snap at your parents because you hate life and they ask you about absolutely everything you have going on, and you’re sick of seeing them every day again already. After unpacking everything, the first week of occasional catch-ups and family celebrations, you realise that there is only so much E! one can handle, and you already watched everything on Netflix at uni, remember?

How to cope:

– Sign up to a temp agency: It’s summer and loads of people with actual jobs are on holidays just loving their employed lives, so companies need experience-seeking graduates to step up and cover. You’ll earn money (generally for easy-as-piss work), and still have flexibility, should you wish to hit that festival, Ibiza, or just buy something nice. Note: definitely try and save a little bit of money, for what happens after the first 3 months (interning…).

– Exercise: This free time is a great chance to burn off the uni carb-and-alcohol calories and get a hot bod. If you want, join a cheap gym (The Gym and Pure Gym are good), and hit that gym between 11AM and 3PM, when all of those employed suckers are at work, and every piece of equipment is available and sweat-free, just crying for you to use it. Or, get a fitness DVD, and work out in the living room with no shame, while your employed family are at work. I particularly like Davina McCall’s DVDs. Outside of this you can always you know, go outside for a run or bike or whatever. All that matters is you get fit, and release endorphins.

– Do stuff: Keep yourself busy. I know this is an obvious one but take it from someone who knows, emerging yourself in every box set made by man is a fast-track to isolation and depression. Bake, blog, sew, run, draw, sing, play music… whatever you do, you do it and you do it well.

– Buy some candles and feng-shui the shit out of your room. Literally clear out everything that you haven’t used in 3 years, and everything you have hanging around from your uni house that you never want to see again. Take down the old-school posters and photos, scrape the blue tack off the walls, and re-decorate if you have to. You’re a graduate now, you need a space that you can relax in, and pretend you’re not back to living with your parents.

– Make goals: When you’re not in a depressive state (maybe after your exercise is the best time for this one) write a list of what you want to do and where you want to be. Set timescales (realistic ones- this is not designed to lower your self-esteem or make you feel like even more of a low-life). Look forward, not backwards.

And whatever you do, in the words of Mike Skinner, stay positive. It will all be okay (if you ignore the haters who keep moaning about employment levels and generally just shitting on graduates). And, should you need any more relatively cheese-filled motivation, please see below for inspiring quotes stolen from Pinterest.

Next week in part 2, we will move on to what you do after summer, when life gets even more real, but in a good way, I promise.

Graduate guide inspiration quotes

Paul’s Boutique’s major new look

Fashion

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Over the last few years, we saw the growth of both the high street and luxury markets simultaneously rise at an extremely fast rate. Luxury brands introduced more accessibly-priced products and the high street added in ranges of higher-priced pieces, to the point where we are now as comfortable browsing for Burberry as we are Topshop.

As these brands entered into mid-market territory from all angles, it seems as if a few mid-market originators struggled. Some raised their prices, others lowered, some disappeared off the map completely. For brands such as Karen Millen, these market shifts were an opportunity for a complete re-brand, and I have to say, Karen Millen has definitely changed for the better. Others, such as French Connection, seem to still be finding their new identity, as recent reports showed that their wholesale and licensing channels were the revenue-making streams from last year, rather than their actual retail stores.

One brand who has recently surprised me is Paul’s Boutique. The last I remember of Paul’s Boutique was a bag that I think kind of mimicked a Marc Jacobs “Stam” bag (this was circa 2010), and was then copied by Primark. Other visuals surrounding this now distant memory are those of pink, fluorescent, overtly branded t-shirts and glitter.

Fortunately, I can now tell you that those days have been firmly cemented in the past.

Paul’s Boutique has dropped the clothing line completely and undergone a huge brand re-positioning strategy, complete with a new logo. The emerging results can be seen in the brand’s SS15 collection of understated, yet sharply striking accessories. What I love most about this whole new strategy is that the brand obviously do not feel pressure to delve head-first into every single product category. Instead, they’re starting fresh with a considered and confident collection of beautiful bags.

The accurately-edited range includes large high-quality totes in luscious neutral leathers and other delightfully-tempting textures, cute coral tone bucket bags and zig-zag print clutches. The new look book shots are equally as contemporary and clean, truly conveying PB’s new high-end aesthetic and exciting direction for the future, as it ventures deep into the mysterious middle market.

Prices are super-affordable, ranging from £25 to £130 for a large suede bag. You can find Paul’s Boutique in John Lewis, online, and in around 400 other stockists globally…

Paul's Boutique SS15 slouchy black grey textured back

Paul's Boutique SS15 coral clutch

zip panel teal

Fashion will always need a little drama

Fashion, Film

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Despite the somewhat mixed reviews (they were always going to be, weren’t they?), I’ve been reading Dana Thomas’ “Gods and kings: The rise and fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano”. Needless to say, the book covers a lot of the designers’ shows, and the drama, the artistry, the sheer extravagance of each one. Of course, the clothes themselves were pieces of art, but with the staging, locations, production dramatics and even the models embodying these characters- running, dancing or even throwing things down the runway- the shows were masterpieces, and as evident in the Savage Beauty exhibition, timeless, and to be ingrained in our history forever.

Surely it comes as no coincidence then that at a time when Savage Beauty has just opened at the V&A and two new books have been published on Alexander McQueen, the post-fashion month discussion has revolved around the lack of trends, Anna Wintour officially cementing individuality as the new trend, and THAT Valentino show.

On Business of Fashion, Imran Amed questions, “What does it say about the state of fashion today, that the only moment that brought the fashion flock to their feet this season was a clever PR stunt that will no doubt make a farce of the fashion industry?”

In the website’s Breakfast club debate, Colin McDowell (one of my favourite writers) felt it distracted us from the craftsmanship and time spent on the collection, that the quality of the clothing was unfortunately not enough to maintain the level of seriousness and professionalism one would probably expect from a major industry event.

But that’s just it, isn’t it? Fashion weeks are no longer just about the collections, and really, we should expect no different when designers are now global brands churning out collection after collection, and the shows- in their hundreds- are over-run by masses of street-style models, bloggers and celebrities.

As we experience a backlash against seasonal trends and look to further our own individual styles, the catwalks will reflect this to remain relevant, as well as obviously strive to further differentiate their brand identity. At a time when everyone can now see the shows, and when the fashion industry’s finest attend hundreds over the course of a month, surely a bit of drama, humour or general out-of-the-norm is very, very welcome?

I for one enjoyed seeing the Zoolander stars rock up at the end of Valentino, it was pretty funny, and it shows that despite putting on one of the most exquisitely beautiful ready-to-wear shows each season, the revived fashion house can still have a bit of fun. Although some people outside of the fashion industry were only really enthralled with the fact that it was Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson “crashing” a fashion show for Zoolander 2, it still gave a good amount of brand visibility to those who were unaware of Valentino, and it gave those show-goers something else to talk about.

hunterrunway6It’s not just Valentino doing things a little differently. Although not a PR stunt, Hunter Original’s AW15 runway was built around loads of waterfalls, with many on the front row near the splash zone. Did anyone really go just to peruse the new collection of wellies and waterproofs? For AW14, Alexander Wang dragged his attendees out to an old navy yard in Brooklyn, and despite the apprehension, it was obviously a great excuse for a separate news story. These ideas may not have been quite so out of this world as a hologram of Kate Moss, but were definitely major talking points and will no doubt stick in the mind over just another fashion week show.

I’m in no way here suggesting that these collections aren’t down to great talent and skill, but in this new digital age of democratized and globalized fashion, it takes a lot more than the clothes to stand out among the rubble and be remembered, and I’m glad more brands are responding to this.

Not Just A Label unveils stunning new website

Fashion

It’s no secret that purchasing fashion these days has changed. No longer do we expect to simply just buy an item, oh no, we expect to have our senses tickled, our minds fed and our style souls enhanced by a whole brand experience of content, clothes and creativity.

Not Just A Label is one online luxury boutique that has established itself as a platform for new global design talent (having been the first to profile reputable designers such as Mary Katrantzou), a pioneer for bespoke pieces and a movement that is fast-becoming the “new luxury”: slow fashion. The website is a go to destination for an all-encompassing brand experience, be it through editorials, fantasy-filled films or the boutique’s Black Sheep section, which champions the best fashion talents of the future, no doubt set for world domination.

It makes sense then, that after growing to become one of the most globally-renowned sources for new fashion talent, and what with today’s ever-changing digital landscape, that Not Just A Label has undergone a fabulous makeover. The new site layout- unveiled today- not only looks much more sophisticated, stylish and fashionably on-point, but it is also much easier to navigate across and filter through. In one quick click, you can now feast your eyes over the Black Sheep section (my favourite), a plethora of forward-thinking, innovative fashion talent; including the unique London knit label, K2TOG, and the carefully constructed creations of award-winning design duo, Dioralop, from Croatia.

Not Just A Label new website

If you like a bit of content with your shopping, the new collection of fashion films is definitely worth a click. Going forward, Not Just A Label are planning to add plenty more exclusive designer interviews, exciting features and films, and of course, amazing, individual pieces from the world’s most wonderful fashion talents. Just glancing over the New Arrivals page has given me a whole new wish list, such as a maxi dress from print label, JEALOUSY, which is so beautiful in its bold but balanced blue print that I could almost cry.

In true luxury style, every buyer receives a personal message from the ACTUAL DESIGNER with their purchase, and can then be safe in the knowledge that they can rock their new piece all day every day if they wanted, but wouldn’t see any other wannabe-imposter wearing the same thing (we’ve all been there).

With this new look adding to the boutique’s fashion credibility, Not Just A Label are setting a new level for the online luxury fashion market, so if I were you, I’d snap up anything you might fancy, otherwise someone else definitely will.

Not Just A Label new website layout

 

Not Just A Label website

Chanel’s punk rock princesses

Fashion

Minimum backdrop, maximum impact. This A/W couture season for Chanel is all about the look, nothing else.

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Original Chanel elements: tweed, chains and chic monochrome were all fully in place, embodied in looks that made for a mesh of historical eras. Brocade, heavy embroidery and regal gold referenced 18th century French royalty; the hair, touches of tartan, shorts under skirts (love) and chain/ ribbon sandal/ flip-flop hybrids were perfectly punk; and the stark white backdrop complimented sleek silks and simple silhouettes that were completely modern.

That and, well, Kendall Jenner making her Chanel debut of course, and a pregnant bride to finish. What else could we have wanted?

Haute couture is back, no “justification” needed

Fashion

The haute couture programme kicked off yesterday with show-starting regular (since the house’s return in 2012), Versace, and so with it comes another week’s worth of articles debating the “need” for haute couture, talking about its revival, or “justifying” it in today’s economy, mainly featured on online publications from broadsheet papers. After a few years of the same kind of story, I’m really getting over this angle.

One article on The Independent’s website pretty much went over facts that we probably all already know; the funds come from the advertising budget, it’s essentially the biggest and best form of PR, there’s money coming in from emerging and developing economies… we’ve all heard this like twenty times before. This to and fro argument finished with: “So, in a nutshell, that’s the justification for haute couture in the 21st century. The craftsmanship is old, the money is new, the red carpet frocks are borrowed and the skies above Paris are suitably blue in a fresh dawn for this age-old, but not old-age, artisan form.” (The Independent, 2014).

Yes, this is in a nutshell completely. The red carpet frocks are borrowed and used to add to the press coverage already achieved from the magnificent show itself, but in doing so they also represent what has been lost from the majority of the rest of the fashion market: the fantasy. The rise of this “accessible luxury”, the globalisation of the fashion industry and therefore ready-to-wear and accessories being seen everywhere from magazines to street-style blogs, has meant that a lot of the dream and fantasy has disintegrated. It is no longer a distant, mystical world to most people not at the centre of the industry.

It can be simple for those not fascinated by fashion to disregard haute couture  and merely see it as a basic and over-priced PR tool. But these people do not see the clothes as art, just more clothes with added labour time. The realities of this fantasy however are that the industry employs hundreds of talented craftsmen who are almost single-handedly keeping this art alive; and that although this old-by-age craft can be deemed “old craftsmanship”, the other reality is that couture is continually developing through new fabrics, designs and complexed techniques, to meet the tastes and demands of this new younger haute couture consumer.

versace haute couture fall 14#

It seems like a lot of less fashion-specific publications like to jump on the bandwagon of feeling the need to “justify” the attention that haute couture receives, because to them it’s more serious to see it as essentially expensive clothes, and I think they need to get over this and just appreciate the beauty. The argument is lost and it’s getting boring.

The revived demand for haute couture is still growing and this level of the market is one major reason for keeping the fashion fantasy very much alive, this surely means that it shouldn’t have to be “justified” at all; particularly when a single perfume launch can cost up to £70 million and that a majority of those flop.

Read: Suzy Menkes’ recent post on haute couture