New Fashion Industry Panel
Moderator: Vivian E.
[Editor's Note: Names have been changed to
protect the innocent... and the guilty.]
Gwen -Fashion magazine associate, in the
business for 3 years.
Jay - Agent for hair and makeup artists, in
the business since 1987.
Andy - Sr. public relations executive, in
the business since 1990.
Sharon - Sr. market editor, in the business since 1989.
Eva - Market editor, in the business since 1992.
Sr. market and sittings editor, in the business since 1991.
Tina - Fashion director, in the business 10+ years
Q1: WHY ARE SO MANY
FASHION EDITORS YOUNG?
Tina: At the publication I
worked at, the assistants are hired start fresh out of college. It's often
their first job. They are lured in by the status of the publication's name and
the idea of working there. In many ways, working at one of the top books is
like attending a university for fashion. You start and slave for a year.
Generally, you're not held back by a husband and children who make competing
demands on your tune. This is a young person's game and you have to have the
time to make an unlimited commitment. In fact there is very much a "no babies
here" kind of aura that prevails. If you work hard, are totally devoted, and
can assimilate to the culture of fashion, you stand a strong chance of being
promoted by your second year.
Q2: WHAT IS AN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF LOOKING FOR
WHEN THEY'RE HIRING?
Tina: Desirable candidates are girls who can
run in high heels, are dedicated and can give 24 hours a day if need be.
Kay: A couple of things. Someone who is real and who is not a diva. It
is important not to treat people improperly. Someone who has an innate interest
in fashion, who" gets it" and has a passion to learn. Age is not so much of an
issue, Some of the best editors are those who have been reading, studying and
following fashion and the arts all of their lives and have a passion for it
Sharon: When an editor in chief is hiring market people, they are
looking for someone with a great eye, someone who looks appropriate to the
magazine and who has excellent relationships in the market with P.R. people and
designers. They should also have great personal style.
Q3: IS IT GOOD OR BAD FOR FASHION TO HAVE
THIS CONSTANT INFUSION OF NEW BLOOD?
Eva: Being a fashion editor is a socially demanding job.
If you're older and have kids, your priorities change. The job lends itself to
someone in their late 20's and early 30's. You can't do it forever. The younger
people generally have the time to commit in and out of the office, have the
time and energy to attend the endless round of events, parties, dinners that
are part of the scene. Jen: Sometimes, it's helpful when I talk to my
junior editors. I'm open to listening to their opinions. I'll try something on
a model that they suggest and I'll see if it works. It's always good to get
their opinions because otherwise I find that I'm working in a vacuum. Also,
they're not held back by pitfalls I've fallen into in my past experience and
have the courage (and inexperience) to try something I might not otherwise be
willing to try again. You never know, it could work the second time around.
Gwen: It's both good and bad. What's good is that every now and then,
you get some new young people with great ideas who are really creative and who
make an impact. What's bad is that the majority becomes socialized and wind up
repeating the cycle of working their assistants as hard as they did when they
were assistants. It's like freshmen being bossed around by the upperclassmen,
kind of. Tina: They are the next generation and they sense the pulse of
the trends. They get the feeling from the street and have a real good groove on
things: music, restaurants, etc. The downside with the younger set is that
sometimes they don't have the expertise just yet or a sense of the history of
fashion. For instance, knowing about the way garments are cut.
Q4: DOES A FASHION EDITOR'S CAREER GO IN
SYNCH WITH THE CYCLES OF FASHION? HOW LONG IS IT BETWEEN CYCLES?
Eva: Within the fashion cycle, there are smaller cycles. Take
platform shoes, they come around every couple of years and then they go away
again. Andy: If you were to plot fashion on a graph you would see that
there are wide variances, definite highs and lows. Things surface only to
become popular again. For the past two season, you keep hearing, "Grey is the
new black." We also hoard the same thing six years ago. Forties glamour is
another one that keeps popping up, lastly in the spring `94 collections. You
know, skinny belts, red lips, etc. Jay: Happily, things are coming back
around. The glory days were the eighties. Until a year or two after the stock
market crash of 1987, there was still money, fashion was - there were great
parties! Ian: Then we had grunge and the artists were doing grunge work
and it was gross. Things have recovered a bit but fashion had not gone back to
the eighties painted faces and huge hair. Things are more about individuality
and people are more accepting of different looks, different, quirkier models,
like the guy in the Club Monaco ads. He never would have been hired to do a big
campaign like that ten years ago. Sometimes, fashionings do seem repetitious.
What keeps it from being boring is that things are done a different way each
time. Isaac (Mizrahi) constantly knocks-off old movies and his mother, but
updates the collections with new fabrications that keep things interesting.
Then on magazine shoots, the clothes are shot on different models and by
different photographers which also helps the look from seeming stale and
Q5: DOES THE INDUSTRY VALUE EDITORS WHO HAVE
STAYED FOR A LONG TIME AT ONE PUBLICATION? Q6: WHO IS A GREAT MARKET EDITOR, PAST
OR PRESENT? Kay: Susan Caimon at Jane and Dorrit Thomas at Allure. They
have an understanding of historical references, an eye, and collaborate well
with the stylists at their respective magazines. Gwen: Wendy Hirschberg
at Vogue, without a doubt. A market editor's job is to cover what is really an
enormous market, remember everything, Provide a stylist what they ask for and
to be able to speak with designers and creative people on a certain level. She
does all of these things. Eva: The two Sashas at Bazaar. They have
everything it takes to be a great market person: knowledge of the history of
fashion, experience in the market, excellent market relationships and very
importantly, they represent the magazine well with the "right" image. It's hard
You have to be easy going and have to be able to work with all types of
personalities and to go with the flow.
Gwen People are not kept
on for sentimental reasons or for loyalty. You have to keep going - every day.
If you stop, it's noticed and people talk. Andy: Yes, I think they do
value veterans. An editor becomes a veteran when their name becomes synonymous
with the magazine they work for. You think of the person when you think of the
magazine or newspaper, e.g. Bobbi Queen at WWD. Sharon: There are two
sides to this. Market contacts value relationships with one person and if the
PR contact is happy with you, they love it when you're at the magazine for a
while. On the edit side, if you're stuck with the same title for a long time,
that's not well regarded. It's OK to stay at one publication for a long time if
you keep getting promoted - no easy thing. Liz Tilberis is a case of a market
editor who aspired to go further and became editor in chief. Overall though,
it's a young business with the exceptions of those special icons like Polly
Q7: WHO IS A GREAT STYLIST, PAST OR PRESENT?
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BEST SITTING SHOT IN THE LAST TEN YEARS THAT HAVE HELPED
MOVE AMERICAN FASHION FORWARD?
Jay: Back in the late eighties, GQ had some great
sittings. Also when Bruce Weber was shooting a lot editorially and after that,
his inspirational ad campaigns. Gwen: Grace Coddington! Her sittings
take you somewhere. When you open up her pages, you embark on a fantasy and
thing to yourself, "I want to be there. I want to be Trish Goff in that English
country garden in that fabulous Chanel couture gown." Sharon: Paul
Cavaco. I loved his sittings for Harper's Bazaar. Andy: Lucy Sykes at
Town & Country. There's a very real but chic approach to what she does
Something I've noticed going forward is that more and more designers are acting
as stylist and photographer. On the same note, an all time great sitting was
shot by designer/stylist/photographer Karl Lagerfeld. Remember that shot of
Claude Montana's then wife, Wallis, in a red Bagdley Mishka gown styled to look
like the Duchess of Windsor? That was amazing!
Q8: WHAT IS THE LIFE-SPAN OF A FASHION
EDITOR? WHAT MAKES IT WORTHWHILE TO STAY IN THE JOB? Kay: Of course it's
individual, but I'd say between 10-15 years. Of course, having said that, there
are the Polly's and the Grace's who are still in the business and they're still
passionate about it. You should be if you're going to keep at it. What's
rewarding are those "moments" and they usually happen in Paris. The military
Yohji show (Fall'96) gave me the chills! Also, when I sat at Tom Ford's Fall'96
show for Gucci, the one with those white dresses, I knew that was definitely a
moment. You think to yourself, this is why I'm in this business Eva: I
agree. For me, it was the Fall'95 Marc Jacobs show at the Plaza. I couldn't get
that show out of my mind. It really wowed me - the hair, the makeup -
everything.Q9: HOW DOES A FASHION EDITOR STAY IN
SYNCH WITH THE CHANGING CYCLES OF FASHION?
Andy: It's key that they
keep their eyes open to all of the changes taking place at the fashion houses.
For example, all the changes at Byblos in the past few years from the boys to
Richard Tyler, to John Bartlett being at the helm. They also need to be out on
the town at night to see what people are wearing from Downtown to the tonier
uptown set. And now, there's the whole LA thing with the celebrities that they
need to stay on top of too. It's a lot to absorb.
Q10: WHEN IS IT TIME TO CALL IT QUITS?
Kay: This is a personal issue and different for everyone. Some of us
will stay at a magazine for ten years, some for three. Sometimes you'll move
for the money. A lot depends on the philosophy of the magazine you're working
for, the dynamics with your co-workers, and the creativity you're allowed. The
degree of collaboration that exists is extremely important. It's time to get
out of the biz when you're not inspired anymore but this can be a catch-22 if
you need to make a living. Gwen: You know you need to leave when you
look at the masthead and can't see a job you want, when you don't want to go
the extra mile for that special skirt.
Q11: WHERE DOES A FASHION EDITOR GO AFTER
THEY'VE STOPPED BEING AN EDITOR? DO THE MAJORITY STAY IN THE INDUSTRY?
Jay: I think if you've been in this Industry for over ten years, you're
a lifer. You find another job in the business. Eva: Once people start a
family, they want to get away from the travel and the evenings out. Some go to
the PR end of the business, some get into merchandising consultation. It's more
common to stay in the industry if you've been it it for a few years than to get
out. Andy: Editors can be compared to trends. After a while, they must
also go and reinvent themselves. Look a Philip Bloch. He's gone from photo
styling to TV and individual styling to making some corporate deals. Donald
Trump hired him to restyle the Miss Universe pageant and to freshen it up by
bringing Hollywood glamour to the event.
Thank you to everyone on the panel for
participating and for being so forthcoming.
By Vivian E. Kelly for Lookonline.com
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