Lessons Learnt from the Fashion Cupboard

The  'fashion cupboard' is something that, to me, up until very recently has been a mysterious and intriguing realm. As someone who has always been fascinated by fashion,  I knew the 'cupboard' to be an industry-wide term synonymous with the period in one's career where you quietly and compliantly do your time, before levelling-up to a position wherein your seniors actually acknowledge your existence. My only previous experience of the cupboard was a brief stint in fashion PR - in a multi-level Georgian building in the West End, the cupboard was in the depths of lower ground, which, in its dingy airless manner, made the interns tantamount to basement-dwelling gremlins, occasionally invited up to deliver a pair of shoes, only to retreat back down to the ceiling-high sample rails due to the burn of direct sunlight. Needless to say I didn't last long.

Of course, being the drama queen that I am I've recently found out the cupboard needn't be as mysterious or anxiety-inducing as I first thought, thanks to a month-long magazine fashion internship where everyone was, contrary to what you might expect 'fashion people' to be like, absolute bloody dreamboats. In that month my eyes have been opened to a wealth of things that I'll take with me for the rest of my career. Some more useful than others, but here are some of the things that I found myself frequently thinking about in my month in the cupboard:

1. Hangers are the worst. They hook onto everything they're not supposed to, and fall off anything you actually want them to hang off as if, like a petulant child, it's a deliberate attempt to make you lose your temper. Infuriation ensues further when you realise how idiotic you are to think  an inanimate object could be capable of deliberately pissing you off because, of course, it's just a hanger. It's like the little plastic twats get their kicks off this vicious cycle.  There is also no possible way of storing hangers in a bag for reuse without them becoming a mass of interlocked plastic more frustrating than untangling a pair of earphones from the bottom of your handbag. Oh, and the NOISE. The bloody noise - scrapes, clinks, the clash of retrieving a clippy from the bottom of a box of toppies. It's quite honestly so anxiety inducing I can no longer shop in public without wanting to sit down, hold my knees and rock back and forth slowly.

2. While we're on the subject, hanging up clothes is very sad. There is quite honestly nothing more soul-crushing (to me, anyway) than hanging up lots and lots of beautiful clothes that don't, and never will, belong to you. It's like dangling Heroin in front of an addict's nose, and being like 'nah, not for you pal'. It also makes you question about 20 times per day whether anyone would really notice if an item were gone, but obviously you bottle it every time and just spend your own non-existent intern money on it instead - hello overdraft, my old friend.

3. You become completely desensitised to the word 'urgent'. Before the cupboard, I understood 'urgent' to be a term used only when something is genuinely urgent, usually as a last chance saloon to get someone to do something for you after several polite emails that have garnered no response. PRs, however, throw the term about like it's going out of fashion (pun intended), so much so that you have genuinely no idea how to prioritise anything because literally everyone needs everything, like, yesterday.

4. Models are built completely differently to most people, so striving to look just like them is pointless. I'm as guilty as any girl of comparing myself to the models I see in magazines - meticulously planning a diet and exercise plan that will make my body look like Gigi Hadid's (and giving up after one week when nothing has changed, obvs). I came into contact with some actual real life models on a couple of shoots and in the process of helping them get in and out of different outfits,  I pretty much saw them 'as god intended', for want of a better phrase. Their bodies were obviously phenomenal - lithe, amazonian with legs up to my waist, but I realised almost immediately that these girls weren't just skinnier than me, they were built totally differently. One of the girls was probably about 6ft tall and proportionately looked about a size 6-8. We tried to get her into a pair of Topshop jeans which were W26 L30 (looking back I'm not sure how we ever thought a 6ft tall girl was going to fit in them), and once the trouser legs finished about half way up her calves, we couldn't do the button and fly up. This skinny model with a washboard tummy couldn't do these jeans up, and it was so clear to me in that moment that it wasn't her weight that was the problem, she was just built larger. Many times in my life I've felt insecure about being 'bigger' than lots of my petite, narrow hipped friends, telling myself if I eat less I'll look like them and my problems will be solved. The reality is I'll never fit into the jeans they wear, no matter how much weight I lose, because I'm taller, wider-hipped and pear shaped. That doesn't make me fat, it just makes me different, and our differences are what make us beautiful, right?

Have you had any experience of fashion interning? I'd love to hear your stories!


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