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From Runway to Retail, Everything You Need to Know to Break Into the Fashion Industry

Written by Annemarie IversonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Annemarie Iverson

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On Sale: August 10, 2010
Pages: 352 | ISBN: 978-0-307-71766-5
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If you've ever dreamed of working at Vogue, photographing supermodels, or outfitting celebrities, In Fashion will equip you with everything you need to know to get an “in” into fashion. Former beauty and fashion news director of Harper's Bazaar and editor in chief of Seventeen, Annemarie Iverson—the outsider’s insider—knows just how to get noticed and stay on top. In Fashion is packed with her insightful tips, along with advice from leaders at Michael Kors, Bergdorf Goodman, Condé Nast, and more. Straightforward, honest, and insightful, Iverson has put together a book that will help you determine your best fashion career fit will providing a bird’s eye view into the most elite fashion companies. Along the way, you’ll learn what school may be best for you, as well as how to write a chic resume, handle the pressures of a fast-paced environment, hone your skills to make you a success in your ideal job, and more. 
 
The most comprehensive guide available for a notoriously competitive industry, In Fashion exposes all of its seams, with plenty of details on what it's like to work at dozens of of elite and cutting-edge companies. Whether you're just getting started or are considering a career switch, In Fashion offers all the resources you need to land your dream job in fashion.

Excerpt

FASHIONISTA APTITUDE SURVEY
 
What’s your fashion fantasy? Do you love clothes and design so much that you dream of becoming a famous fashion designer? Are you obsessed with shoes, endlessly sketching heels and soles and researching trims, buying vintage stilettos at flea markets for your collection? Or do you devour fashion magazines and envision yourself as an exquisitely dressed editor at Vogue? Maybe you secretly imagine yourself in front of the camera, the smoky-eyed model in the Chanel ad, bringing next season’s designs to life for the whole world to admire? Or maybe you see yourself behind the scenes as the fashion photographer or the stylist who brings his or her own original twist to clothes and accessories or as the hair stylist or makeup artist on the shoot. All of these people—and thousands more—populate the world of fashion. Each of them is In Fashion, and that’s where you want to be too. But how can you get there?
 
Well, you’re already on your way: The passion that’s in your heart and mind for your future career is essential and will help shape your success and happiness almost more than anything else. While your fashion dreams may quickly become reality and you will soon be touted as the next Donna Karan, Anna Wintour, or Kate Moss, chances are there are years of education, tough work, highs, but mostly lows between you and that happy ending. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to know up front what path to follow? Or at least to know of a path or two that would be so wrong for your personality, so abhorrent to your tastes, that you shouldn’t bother exploring them?
 
Beyond the passion (or obsession), where do you start? What’s the right educational path and best possible schools, internships, and summer jobs? To get you started, we first need to understand: What sort of fashionista are you?
 
To answer that question, we need to delve deep inside your DNA to see how your personality is hardwired: What inspires you? And, conversely, what makes you glaze over? Shut down?

Just as millions of young people take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test to help determine their best possible career paths, you are about to take the In Fashion Fashionista Aptitude Survey to see where you might best fit in the ephemeral, glamorous, exhausting, and unpredictable world of fashion. The survey explores whether you are naturally outgoing or introverted; whether, when faced with information, you take it in on face value or, instead, you interpret it and add new meaning; whether, in dealing with the outside world, you tend to instantly judge a situation or you prefer to allow elements and details to seep in slowly.
 
Since there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, go with your first instinct and don’t overthink. It is best to take a couple of quiet minutes to do these questions on your own: Doing the survey out loud with friends will inevitably skew the results. Given that fashion is a visual industry driven by image, creativity, and illusion, even in the hardest of economic times, this survey is designed for those who are naturally drawn to glamour. If you think the survey questions are inane and/or you don’t identify with any of the responses, you might want to seriously question your inclination to the field itself. Let’s face it, if you need something more concrete, there’s always engineering, accounting, medicine, IT...
 
Those fields aren’t for you? Okay, then. Let’s begin.
 
1. word that best describes you:
a. Outrageous
b. Sensitive
c. Insightful
d. Ingenious
 
2. as a child, you most liked:
a. Performing
b. Drawing
c. Reading
d. Socializing
 
3. personalities whose biographies you’d most want to read:
a. Karl Lagerfeld, Oscar Wilde, Princess Diana, Stephen Sprouse
b. Leonardo da Vinci, Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, Lee Miller
c. Diana Vreeland, Nora Ephron, Carmel Snow, Anna Wintour
d. Donald Trump, Niccolò Machiavelli, J.P. Morgan, Warren Buffett, Diane
von Furstenberg
 
4. expression you’re most likely to overuse:
a. “Heaven”
b. “Cool”
c. “Genius”
d. “Perfect”
 
5. person you’d most like to hang out with:
a. Sofia Coppola
b. Kate Moss
c. Christiane Amanpour
d. Madonna
 
6. on summer breaks during high school, you were most likely to be:
a. Starring in a summer stage production
b. Developing black-and-white prints for a photography class
c. Winning the prize for the most books read at the public library
d. Running a lemonade stand by day and babysitting by night
 
7. historic personality you’d most like to meet:
a. Marie Antoinette
b. Joan of Arc
c. Queen Elizabeth I
d. Catherine the Great
 
8. your biggest weakness:
a. Meeting deadlines
b. Making conversation
c. Being impatient
d. Letting go
 
9. what you value most:
a. Originality
b. Creativity
c. Truth
d. Results
 
10. if forced to play one of the following social sports, you’d choose:
a. Bowling
b. Croquet
c. Tennis
d. Squash
 
11. your facebook habit:
a. You sometimes forget you’re signed up.
b. You log on once or twice a week when you have downtime.
c. You compulsively sign in every morning to check flagged photos from last night’s parties and film openings.
d. You use it as a research tool, to vet potential new friends or learn more about future clients or bosses.
 
12. bad qualities people sometimes ascribe to you:
a. That you’re in outer space, unconnected to daily life, a total dreamer
b. That you are unresponsive, inarticulate, lazy
c. That you are unfeeling, insensitive, judgmental
d. That you’re always “on,” too aggressive, and lacking in basic human values
 
13. you are most likely to lose track of time when you are:
a. Making something
b. Watching something
c. Reading something
d. Planning something
 
14. truth about pets:
a. My little dog comes with me everywhere.
b. I love animals, but I’m allergic.
c. I love cats because they have evolved personalities and are low maintenance.
d. I travel too much to have a pet.
 
15. favorite way to socialize:
a. Go out, dropping by as many different kinds of parties as possible, ending up at dinner at 11 p.m. at a cool restaurant with a big group of old and new friends.
b. Invite a few close friends over for a low-key dinner at home, then watch a new-release film together.
c. Stage a dinner party with heady conversation and an interesting mix of guests.
d. Attend a few important cocktail parties, then invite a group of business friends to dine at a good table at a hot restaurant.
 
16. always in your possession:
a. Pashmina or cashmere sweater
b. Brush, lint remover
c. New Yorker, lip balm
d. Electronic agenda, money
 
17. when someone compliments you, you feel:
a. Energized
b. Embarrassed
c. Deserving
d. Suspecting that there must be an underlying motive
 
18. in high school, you are voted:
a. Most Likely to Be Famous
b. Most Likely to Travel to Faraway Places
c. Most Likely to Rule the World
d. Most Likely to Be a Billionaire
 
19. in relationships, you:
a. Tend to be the more dominant partner, looking for adulation, support, and structure
b. Seek to find your creative equal and would rather stay single than compromise this vision
c. Want an accomplished mate, but one who has succeeded in a totally different field, like finance, architecture, or medicine, so you don’t get competitive with him or her
d. Love to go out with different kinds of people, but you have a hard time committing
 
20. your dream workspace:
a. It is not a traditional office but rather an open space, with the walls filled with inspiration boards; there’s music playing, people are coming and going, and there’s a nice buzz.
b. I hate offices.
c. It’s a tidy corner office, with white Barcelona chairs and fresh flowers.
d. It’s a war room brimming with charts and presentation materials.
 
21. relationship with your mother:
a. She’s supportive and inspiring.
b. She’s practical and likes to nurture me.
c. She’s proud of me, but she knows I’m too busy to chitchat.
d. She complains that I don’t have a life.
 
22. relationship with your father:
a. He’s proud of me, but he’s not that involved.
b. We’re a lot alike.
c. He’s the one who pushes and encourages me.
d. Sadly, he doesn’t have much faith in me.
 
23. relationship with your iPhone:
a. You like making videos and texting friends but keep losing it.
b. You use the camera and e-mail capabilities much more than the phone itself.
c. When not at your desk, it’s your lifeline: You keep lists, jot notes, take calls, and write e-mails.
d. It’s never out of hand, and the ringer is never silenced, but you actually prefer your BlackBerry.
 
24. biggest influences on your life:
a. Tom Ford or Yves Saint Laurent
b. Helmut Newton or Richard Avedon
c. Anna Wintour or Liz Tilberis
d. Calvin Klein or Bernard Arnault
 
25. if you could go back and do one thing differently, you’d have:
a. Continued with piano lessons
b. Continued with French lessons
c. Learned to cook some basic meals
d. Taken more history and art classes
 
26. section of the Sunday paper you first want to read:
a. Arts
b. Style
c. News
d. Business
 
27. the best description of your closet:
a. This is one area of my life where I cannot bear clutter—I limit myself to
one half-empty rack of clothes.
b. It is endless, and its contents spill out into every inch of my personal
space.
c. Outfits are organized by day, with shoes and extras attached to the
hangers.
d. Current season is front and center; last season is pushed to the back.
 
28. class you least wanted to skip:
a. Home economics
b. Art
c. English
d. Econ
 
29. kind of car you picture yourself driving:
a. Restored antique Aston Martin or Citroën
b. Jeep or urban SUV
c. Mercedes
d. Porsche
 
30. your preferred high school extracurricular activity was:
a. Drama or glee club
b. Yearbook or sports teams
c. Debate team or school newspaper
d. Prom committee or student council
 
31. section of a tabloid paper you first want to read:
a. Gossip
b. Horoscopes
c. “Media Ink”
d. “Madison Avenue”
 
32. on your bedside table when you go to sleep at night:
a. Sketchbook
b. French Vogue
c. Notepad
d. Women’s Wear Daily
 
33. recurring nightmare:
a. You are drowning in a sea of tulle.
b. You are frozen speechless in front of a large group of expectant people.
c. You are walking down a fashion runway nude.
d. A series of obstacles prevents you from reaching your office or school for a big meeting or exam.
 
34. your fantasy way to shop:
a. You shop at vintage couture auctions, estate sales, and European flea markets.
b. You shop at showrooms and sample sales to acquire unique pieces that were designed but never produced.
c. You preorder ready-to-wear with designer showrooms and then fill in your wardrobe using editorial discounts at Prada, Dior, and Gucci.
d. Your trusted personal shopper identifies ten to twelve current season looks and four current season evening looks with shoes, bags, and accessories.
 
35. after you’ve left an event, you tend to best remember:
a. The overall mood, colors, fabrics, smells, tastes
b. One amazing or novel thing
c. Names dropped and catchphrases spoken
d. Specific numbers or market trends revealed in conversation
 
RESULTS: SO WHERE DO I FIT IN?
More A answers
than anything else means you were born to be a
 
Creator
a designer, a creative force, possibly even the Name on the Label.
Characteristics of the Creator type:
You are an extrovert.
You are outgoing.
You love life, beauty, and material comforts.
You are needy and seek out constant reaffirmation from others of your talent,
work, and abilities.
You can be spontaneous and unpredictable.
You shield yourself from criticism: It could slow your creative process.
You thrive on being the center of attention.
You dislike structure and are frustrated with strict routine in any aspect of
your life.
You enjoy being dramatic.
You are extremely verbal and can express yourself in powerful and original
ways.
For you, the process of creation is far more motivating than a deadline.
You are a perfectionist.
 
If you have mostly B answers, you are destined to be a Visualizer,
bringing the world around you to life in a medium like film, video, photography, or illustration. You will be physically participating yourself as a model or, possibly, acting as an agent, representing models or photographers. Characteristics of a Visualizer:
You are, by nature, introspective.
You tend to be quiet, until you feel comfortable with the people you are with or the situation.
You are hypersensitive to criticism.
You “beat yourself up,” anticipating negative comments about your work even as you are in the midst of doing it.
Goals or expectations that are stated too clearly make it hard for you to produce.
You are tolerant of different kinds of people and ways of thinking, and you are flexible to others’ ideas when working in a group.
You prefer to work in a “creative” time frame: nine-to-five isn’t for you.
You are strongly defined by your values and your cultural or religious identity.
Your EQ (emotional intelligence quotient) may well surpass your IQ.
If you are in your comfort zone, you are a tireless, cheerful, and creative collaborator.
You are extremely loyal to the small group of people that is most important to you.
The idea of making a presentation or speaking in front of a large audience is terrifying.
You possess a subtle sense of humor that not everyone gets, and you look for this trait in others.
You are self-contained, on time, and dependable.
To others, you seem to possess a Zen-like calm.
You like to express your originality in the way you dress—cool but slightly off, broken, surprising, or original.
You love to travel and to experience new landscapes, foreign cities, and their cultures.
You trust that “if you do what you love, you’ll love what you do,” more than five-year plans and long-term “objectives.”
You trust individuals, not companies.
You loathe conflict and disagreements, preferring to talk things out calmly.
 
 
If you have mostly C answers, you would fit nicely in the editorial world in a function that would allow you to play the Critic, commenting on the world around you and educating others about it. Blogging or teaching would be another avenue to explore, as you like to be an authority and enjoy the challenge of filtering events and personalities in an original way. Characteristics of a Critic:
You are direct and frank.
You love learning, researching, and synthesizing information and then communicating what you’ve learned to others in new and creative ways.
Conflict and competition motivate you.
You are highly verbal and are clear and forceful in presenting ideas.
You connect the dots and are able to see larger social or cultural trends from individual pieces of disparate information.
You feel that you were born to lead.
You like to be the boss, to see your name in print or on the door.
You are judgmental and critical, in the sense that you enjoy dissecting the merits of an object, opinion, or runway creation.
You like order, and you sort ideas and objects to obtain a clear order.
You thrive in structure, routine.
You absorb tremendous amounts of information quickly; you are able to take in and later verbalize countless details after just a glance at a person or a picture.
You take pleasure in long-term planning and goal setting.
You love to read and always want to know what others are reading.
You like to be in the know culturally.
 
More D answers than anything else means that you have the fierce and irrepressible qualities of a Seller. This is a vast category that encompasses working at a retail store, selling advertising at a magazine, working on the client side at an ad agency, and merchandising and/or selling a fashion line from the designer. Characteristics of a Seller: You are good with money—how to spend it and how to make it; you get commerce; you get other people.
You are an extrovert: You’d much rather be social and with other people than home alone pondering the problems of the universe.
You were born with thick skin and don’t easily get discouraged by rejection or refusal. Sometimes you actually feel more motivated to get what you want after someone tells you no.
You are realistic.
You are driven.
You are a rational thinker.
You are motivated more by money than ideas.
You value efficiency.
You are practical and matter-of-fact about life.
You are decisive and move quickly to implement decisions.
You are able to organize people and projects in order to get things done.
You don’t dwell on mistakes or embarrassments.
You are open and responsive to criticism and see it as a catalyst for personal
and professional growth.
You are ambitious.
You like deadlines and meet them no matter what, often working backward from a drop-dead date to map out your strategy to complete the project.
You like to look sleek, spotless, and well manicured.
You work out obsessively.
You trust institutions and like being associated with a respected company.
You work best with clearly stated goals and objectives.
You could easily put work ahead of all other elements in your life—family, friends, and homelife.
 
Mixed Results?
The fashion world is, by definition, extroverted, and extroverts dominate Creators, Critics, and Sellers.
Visualizers stand alone in that they make up the only introverted group. If
you have a majority of B responses (ten or more), you are a clear-cut B—don’t
make yourself miserable trying to convert yourself into a social butterfly.
Nevertheless, you should strive to develop your extroverted side to succeed in
the fashion business and be a balanced person in general. (The impossible
question for me to answer is this: Am I naturally friendly, or have I taught
myself to be social in order to be effective at what I want to do?)
A and C personalities adore being the center of attention—the critical difference
is that A’s function is to create in a three-dimensional world of forms,
patterns, and fabrics for three-dimensional customers while C’s function is to
communicate and celebrate the work and creations of others. The message
for both is to find time and ways to explore the inward-thinking side of your
personality
C’s and D’s are both driven and highly disciplined, which serve them well
in the business of fashion.
Unlike A’s, B’s, and C’s, D’s alone possess the divine ability not to take
things personally. D’s have removed their egos from the process. If you are
clearly a D, you’ll never be an A. But a smart A could partner with you.
 
 
Potentially Powerful Combos
When A + C = ME

If you find yourself with nearly equal numbers of A and C answers, you have
all the makings of a leader, a communicator, and a creative force in popular
culture. Your challenge is to explore in yourself whether you prefer physical
expression of yourself via the creation of clothes or bags, or verbal or visual
communication of your vision in print or online via words and pictures.
Examples of designers who write include Isaac Mizrahi and Josh Patner;
editors
who design are rare, but include Glenda Bailey, whose early dream
was to design her own collection and have it produced in Italy. Either way, the
world is your oyster.
 
When A + D = ME
If you have an equal number of A and D answers, you possess the dual abilities
to create and to sell, which will help you no matter which direction you
choose. If your heart is really in design, start there. Luckily, you can always
fall back on your business smarts down the road. Master designer/marketers
like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren evidence equally developed A and D
sides of their brains.
 
When C + D = ME
If you have an equal number of C and D responses, you have both the intellect
and mental flexibility of an editor and the buttoned-up smarts of a money
person. As with the previous combination, it is best to focus your energies on
the area you love the most, without thinking about your salary. If you are a
great editor, you’ll be paid a great editor’s salary. If you start as an editor
and then move to the business side, you’ll understand the process more
thoroughly
than most anyone else. But beware: There are very few examples
in this world of a person who started as a D and then was able to switch to a
C. First jobs do matter.
 
Quirky, Rarer Combos
When A + B = ME
You are truly an artist and an introvert and capable of great genius. But since
you won’t want to live your life in public, resentfully under a media microscope,
you might consider designing for a label that’s not your own or not your
own name. Or consider being a photographer who travels between the worlds
of art and fashion.
 
When B+ C = ME
These two qualities work very nicely together and could actually describe a
lot of the most talented stylists (or fashion editors) I know at magazines. They
are introverted and visually oriented, but they love the structure and prestige
of a magazine. Similarly, photographers who develop a regular gig with a
publication
can play both sides of their personalities—relaxed and creative
in the studio and more professional and formal in business dealings and
relationships.
 
When B + D = ME
This is a most unlikely pairing of traits. Living in a big-league business world
would prove tough for an introverted artist like you. Yet you may not find true
success or satisfaction on the visual side of fashion either. Your best path
may be on the business side of visuals—that is, as a photographer’s studio
manager or agent, or as a model agency booker or scout, running a retouching
business for photographers, for example, or staging runway shows. Explore
internships and classes in both fields and see where your interests and talent
take you.
 
Note: If you want to explore career typing beyond the fashionista survey, go to
www.myersbriggs.org.
Annemarie Iverson

About Annemarie Iverson

Annemarie Iverson - In Fashion
ANNEMARIE IVERSON, formerly the editor in chief of Seventeen and YM and beauty and fashion news director of Harper's Bazaar, currently serves as Senior Vice President, Global Brand Development, at Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. She's also authored the bestselling books Bobbi Brown Beauty and Bobbi Brown Teenage Beauty.
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“For those brave and inspired enough to throw themselves headlong into this business, Annemarie’s advice is priceless.”
-Calvin Klein

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