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.
How was the company culture at Vogue Turkey?
There were only two assistants in our office, so it was me and this other girl who is actually one of my best friends still today. We were working 24/7 and relied on each other so much so you really form a bond.
I swear you make your fastest and closest friends in the fashion closet.
Yes! There were a lot of situations that’s seemed so daunting at the time and a massive workload but we were quite resilient because we were there for each other. We were there until 2 in the morning many nights, weekends. We shared an office with other publications and us assistants would all be in it together, exhausted. It was a complete pressure cooker environment.
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!