Oh New York, the sweet big juicy apple. How I love thee. With five jam-packed days in this wondrous city, the college provided us with an insider’s view of this major fashion capital, as opposed to the typical tourist sojourn. A personal highlight, amongst an array of unforgettable experiences, was a trip to Riverside Studios in Queens to meet the infamous Patricia Field. If you’re not familiar with Patricia’s work, she is the powerhouse behind the styling of Sex and The City, Gossip Girl and The Devil Wears Prada, and an all round style maverick. Her current project is styling for the TV series Younger and we were lucky enough to experience the early stages of her work in progress at Riverside Studios. Rack upon rack of beautifully selected clothes, accessories and shoes were neatly lined up, all individually assigned to the characters who would be coming in later that day for first fittings.
During our morning with Patricia, and her dogs I hasten to add, she gave us a guided tour of the studio and regaled us with her fantastic tales before answering a mass of questions. For a woman who has become an icon in her own right, Patricia was incredible humble and enormously generous with her time and expertise. We discussed her prowess as a stylist, the importance of styling for your character not your personal taste and why we should consider the film industry when working in fashion. The latter point was particularly interesting because it opened up an array of potential career opportunities I had not previously given thought to. However, it was the genuine passion Patricia had for her job of many decades that resonated with me most. To quote the woman herself ; ‘When the going gets tough you’ve got to still want to be there and you can’t be there if you don’t love it. It’s like marriage’.
Another highlight was our visit to the Conde Nast US headquarters. Approaching the One World Trade Centre where the offices are based was awe-inspiring yet thrilling. All eager to witness what went on in the soaring building, we stepped inside. Colossal artworks of splattered paint adorned the walls as we moved through. Our visit began with a beautiful array of colourful fruit and red velvet cupcakes laid out for breakfast. It was a surreal experience to be seated in a room surrounded by floor to ceiling glass walls, revealing the phenomenal views of New York.
We were firstly given an in depth talk on the history of Condé Nast by the HR team. Following this we heard from extremely talented individuals from Vogue, Teen Vogue, Glamour and W magazine. Phil Picardi, already the Digital Editorial Director at Teen Vogue at only 25 years old, talked of using magazines to promote social good and as a voice for those unheard. Sally Singer, the Digital Creative Director of Vogue gave us a fascinating insight into the ever evolving, fast paced world of digital content at American Vogue.
We were then elevated to the exciting floor of W magazine. With pristine offices and spectacular views, there was a gentle hum of voices eagerly discussing their latest issue. Moving further through we were taken to the elusive fashion cupboard. It certainly did not disappoint. Entering a different world we were standing inside this mythical hideaway. Exquisite shoes, jewellery, handbags and clothes adorned the walls, ensuring our eyes continuously fixated. Advice of how to start out in the industry and which career path to take were questions that were answered with valuable advice.
The Condé Nast Creative Group floor was fairly new to the building and we were able to move through the different offices of Condé Nast publications, such as GQ and CN Traveller, each having a unique character and atmosphere. The therapy ‘post it note’ wall was Condé Nast staff’s way to share anything they felt like sharing. A smattering of colourful ‘post it’s’ decorated the wall, varying from whimsical animation drawings to political statements. We were all enthralled. Our final and most anticipated event of the day had arrived. The room was hushed in suspense of the arrival of Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of American Vogue. Excited glances darted the room. Doors swung open and there she was, with her immaculate bob and iconic dark sunglasses. We were all in awe. Three of us were lucky enough to ask Anna a question, a rare and valuable opportunity. These ranged from whether Anna thought the money involved in the fashion industry had become detrimental to creativity in such a corporate environment, to her thoughts on the strong move from print to digital. She expressed her thoughts that today there is even more opportunity to create. Anna was also asked her thoughts on any up and coming designers, responding that Molly Goddard was certainly one to keep an eye on. It was a day none of us will forget.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip full of once in a lifetime oppotunities and memories we will cherish for many years to come.