Poppy had just left assisting Venetia Scott, so she didn’t need a full-time assistant. She ended up recommending me to another stylist, Stevie Westgarth, and I worked with him for about 6 months. Then I found a position with Gillian Wilkins, who was the fashion director at Russh Magazine at the time. I was with her for about 2 years.
Were you between Australia and the UK? or...
Just the UK because that’s where Gillian’s office was located which was a bit of a challenge when it came to communicating with PR’s. UK PR’s we could talk to all day but New York PR’s would open at 2pm and then with Australia you’d wake up in the middle of the night and answer emails at 4am. We would always be working on quite a few projects at once, which would add to the craziness.
It was definitely a 24/7 job and pretty hectic. But I loved it. Then when Gillian moved to New York, we parted ways. It was good timing because I realized that by then I had learned everything that I needed from that position at that time. I feel like when you’re not progressing anymore and you feel like you can do that job with your eyes closed you know, it’s the right time to move on.
Can you go into detail about your role there?
My role on the masthead was Fashion Director's Assistant. But I basically worked as Gill's first assistant in addition to Russh work. I worked on all of her shoots, which included cover shoots, main fashion shoots and extra stories within an issue. I also worked with contributors that Gill would bring on board. Production was a part of my job as well, so it was good to have my previous production skills under my belt. Gill was Lucinda Chambers first at British Vogue years ago and still does a lot of work for international Vogue’s. So we’d always be working on editorials for them as well.
So your prior experience with production ended up benefiting you?
100%. It gave me the tools to be a better assistant. When interviewing I think it gave me a step ahead as well because people like to see that on a resume. The skills learned in production are invaluable for assisting creative people, especially because it’s all about organization and structure which teaches you how to be a good assistant. It’s also important to know how to treat people on set, and especially how to deal with people who can be a bit difficult.
People skills can be the most important to have.
Yeah, you really have to be aware of what you say and when. It’s definitely something you learn with experience over time when you’re assisting. It’s important to give the stylist and the photographer physical space on set to do their thing and bring their vision to the shoot. You have to step back and let them know you’re in their eye line but not in their way.
Circling back to your time at Turkish Vogue, what was your day-to-day role?
I was Assistant to the Fashion Director when the magazine first launched. In the first few issues, we had all the top photographers, all the top models, so it was an exciting time and place to work. The main office was in Istanbul, but the fashion office was in London. There was a lot of flying around the world with clothes, millions of trunks and creating all the carnets and paperwork. It was right when Vogue Russia, Vogue Ukraine, Brazil, all the new markets, had launched as well and we all shared an office. I found it really interesting - how can you translate current fashion trends to a different culture, religion, different way of life?
I thought Turkish Vogue would be a lot more conservative, but not at all. Still though they have a different aesthetic, they like quite loud, full-on things, usually with a logo or recognizable print to show the brand. In London, Paris and New York at the moment, it’s all about being quite understated. The fashion director I assisted had amazing ideas. One of the first editorials I did was called Cartoon Femininity. Turkey has quite a masculine culture so we put these really feminine dresses on super feminine models in these Turkish masculine situations.
There’s a tradition of Turkish oil wrestling for the men, it’s a coming of age rite. They’re given these embellished leather trousers and big belts when they are boys. We shot Isabeli Fontana amongst the oil wrestlers on a beach in Montauk. All the samples got drenched in oil and sand, which was a nightmare for me!
Then we went to this beautiful place called Izmir on the Turkish coast for Turkish Love Story but with Dree Hemingway. It was interesting taking their traditional ideas and making them new and fashionable in a way that we could sell to them and also internationally.
I’ve continued to do a lot of work for new markets in my freelance work. I’ve been to Azerbaijan six times, Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Mexico, Argentina. It’s interesting to learn about those parts of the world. You realize that fashion is more than just clothes; it’s a symbol of aspiration that they’re progressing. They’re so into logos; it’s about showing luxury outwardly.
What was your biggest takeaway from Vogue Turkey? Did you grow during your time there?
Completely and really quickly. It’s hard to get magazine jobs because there are so few and it’s fiercely competitive. The first day I got there, I had to organize a whole shoot with 28 trunks. I packed a trunk overweight, and it got stuck in customs and caused hold ups. I think being thrown in the deep end is always the best way because you learn from your mistakes. I never did that again!
Then once a whole shipment for the Britney Spears’ video I was working on got stuck in customs because turns out you’re not allowed to ship sunglasses to the United States. You might write in a customs invoice that a sample has feathers, and then, turns out; you’re not allowed feathers in that country. You always learn the hard way!
I was the fashion market editor.
I was basically the person that was between the advertisers and the stylists. I worked with the stylists to give them the least amount of credits to do as possible. Then I would always check in with the stylists to make sure that they could get the samples that they wanted.
That was my main position but because the team was so small I was doing much more than that. I was finding artists that the magazine could collaborate with, working on some other projects that the magazine had on the side, and I was also doing all of the styling for the website.
Did you learn anything from your time at Self Service?
Yeah, especially because it was my first time working at a magazine. When I was working with Marie Amelie Sauve, for shoots it was mainly just putting looks together and assisting on set. Versus when I was at Self Service, I had to deal with deadlines, coordinating with different people, I saw the team making sure the photographer can work well with the stylist, then editing the photos, layouts, and just really the entire process from start to finish. It was super interesting, though. At the end when the magazine is in your hand you’re like “Oh my god.”
It sounds like they're really good at giving stylists their freedom to go out and do what they do. That’s probably why it's one of my favorite magazines. I have every single issue.
Yeah from like 2012 and up. I’m obsessed; they always have the best people.
Yeah I was super happy to be a part of it.
I'm a huge fan of their work. Even in the beginning, in the 90's, all the first issues are amazing. It wasn't at all like it is now; it was a bit like a fanzine with cool collaborations with Chloë Sevigny, Mark Borthwick and all the cool people from that time.
Also they just have this cool independent reputation. It's really important in Paris because a lot of the magazines here are more commercially focused. Self Service is more about letting people be free to do what they want but with this specific touch you can find in every issues.
How was the company culture?
It was a tiny team, and everyone was super chill and then sometimes not chill.... I don’t know, you could just feel that something special was happening when we were building the issues. We were all very free to do what we wanted and no two days were ever the same. We also worked really well together as a team, and everyone helped everyone. It was one of the most beautiful offices too.
What have you learned from your role so far?
I'm a completely different person from last year because when you’re given that much responsibility you grow so quickly. I've learned to be very, very organized, and independent because Katie was on maternity leave. Since she lives in the countryside, she was hardly in the office so I would prep the whole shoot and then just meet her on set.
Yeah she put a lot of trust in me. Some weeks I would get to the office at 8 am and just work until 10 or 11 pm. It's incredibly rewarding, though.
Another really important thing that I’ve learned to do is introduce myself to people on set, and connect with them - so many of them have become really good friends of mine now. Like hair and makeup artists, and even photographers. So when I visit another city that they live in, I’ll see them.
It's so nice to know people like that. They're all so nice and open, even if they might intimidate you at first. And it can make almost any job a lot more enjoyable if you’re working with your friends.
Another major thing I’ve learned is how to balance my life a bit better. Being an assistant can be so exhausting and the hours can be really long, so when I have time off I really make the most of it. It’s so important to have that time to yourself and with your friends.
Do you like your role now?
Yeah. I mean there are still days when it’s just ridiculous, and you’re overworked and underpaid, but it’s been so worth it. The experiences that I’ve gotten to have, traveling and meeting all of these people; it’s remarkable.
Do you also help Katie with her other projects, like Gareth Pugh?
Yes. I help her with everything that she does.
Yeah so I’ll help her with Gareth Pugh, and then most recently she styled a ballet at the Royal Opera House in May, so I worked a lot on that.
And she shoots a lot for Vogue and other magazines as well.
That's cool because you get to work on the magazine but you still get to expand your network to all these other places.
It was perfect. It's so nice to have an office to go into everyday and friends to see - I know people who assist freelance stylists and they might just be in an apartment receiving samples all day. Where as I get to be in an office environment but also be a part of projects that are separate from AnOther Magazine.
What was your first role at Nylon?
I was the fashion intern. My responsibilities included working in the fashion closet, sample trafficking, assisting fashion editors with various tasks, and working on set of photo shoots.
What did you learn from it?
I learned how a magazine runs and how closely each department works together to get the finished product. I was able to see how the issues progressed from start to finish. My responsibilities as an intern were very similar to those I had while interning for Delphine so I was able to transition easily.
What was the company culture?
Everyone at Nylon is a family. The staff is quite small so I got to know not only the fashion team but other departments too. There are bagel / pizza Fridays and dogs running around the office - the fun brand image that Nylon has as a magazine is reflected clearly throughout the entire office and everyone who works there.
How did you take your Teen Vogue freelance position to a job?
Networking. The job was supposed to only last 3 months and they really liked me, but since nothing was open I started looking elsewhere. Then maybe a week or two later, they had hired a new fashion director and they were looking for someone to assist her. I didn't have any time to prepare for the interview though, because they were like, "Oh, meet with Marina today." I didn't even get to pick out a nice outfit.
So what was your role there?
At Teen Vogue I was the assistant to the fashion director and senior editor. When I was there it was Marina Larroude and Jesscia Minkoff. I would help them with their pages in the magazine by calling in products and creating story boards. I also assisted with their expense reports, scheduling, and anything else they might need. I was pretty much their right hand girl. I also got to assist Jessica on set whenever she was styling a shoot for the magazine which was always very exciting. A big part of my job was being organized and being able to think ahead. Knowing what my bosses might need before they even ask. Also, having a positive attitude and doing every task you are assigned, no matter how small, to the best of your abilities. Marina and Jessica are incredible people to work for and such good mentors, bosses, and friends- I was so lucky to have gotten this opportunity.