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Young Aspiring Fashion Professionals: How to Get Ahead

13/02/2015

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It’s New York Fashion Week so what better time to discuss breaking into the industry?

Pay attention to what’s going on in the fashion world. Keep bookmarks on Women’s Wear Daily and Style.com It may be possible to succeed while living in your own little world but I don’t think it’s smart to try.

• Subscribe to newsletters from fashion schools, websites, etc. I’m serious. If I wasn’t on the email list for FIDM (a school which I respect but have no intention of applying to) I NEVER would have found out about auditions for Project Runway: Threads.

Start young. I mean really young. If you’re ten years old and are interested in fashion design, Google sewing classes in your area. Art classes. If you want to be a writer, start a fashion blog. There’s no time like the present.

Don’t spend your teen years sewing and sketching in your room. Get out there. Fashion is a tough business and you need to be ambitious, not just technically proficient. Seek out opportunities, don’t wait for them to come to you because they probably won’t. Even if you don’t live in a big city, I don’t, there is still a lot you can do.

– If you’re in high school, you can apply to the BP Fashion Board at Nordstrom on the 19th of February. You’ll learn about the ins-and-outs of fashion as well as get to meet people around your age with like-interests.

– I believe Teen Vogue Fashion University applications have already closed (I could be wrong!) but you can always try next year! TVFU is a three day seminar where leaders of the fashion industry like Zac Posen and Rebecca Minkoff speak about breaking into the industry.

– There are summer programs at FITSAIC, SCAD, even Cornell! All the top fashion schools offer them- some of them offer college credit. If cost is an issue, you can look for grants offered by local organizations, try to get a scholarship/financial aid, or start a GoFundMe page.

– If convenient for you, precollege during the year programs are offered at: FITSAIC, Parsons, Pratt, LIMOtisAAU, and probably others. I take precollege at FIT and enthusiastically endorse it.

Start a FIDM Fashion Club at your school. Or join the school newspaper and write about style. Or make costumes for the school plays. 

– Try to land an internship. I interned with a designer in the city when I was in 8th grade. It’s hard to be taken seriously if you’re not in college but it’s certainly not impossible. Similarly, look for volunteer opportunities during New York Fashion Week if you’re in the area.

So, there it is. My advice specifically for teens and/or tweens interested in fashion. If you have anything to add: leave a comment! 

Wiedersehen,

Molly.

New Year’s Resolutions

04/01/2015

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Okay, I’m finally back to blogging after a very long break! To get myself back into it, I’ll start with a clichéd post: New Year’s Resolutions. Of course, I’ll only share the ones that relate to fashion/design. I’m a Junior in high school so this is the year that I’m trying to crack down and seek out new opportunities that could be beneficial to my artistic/professional development or would just look good on a college resume.

1) Get accepted to a top-notch pre-college summer program. I applied to Parsons ( SIS in Paris, for Fashion Culture), NYU/Tisch (for Theatre Production/Design), and Boston University/BUSTI (for Theatre Design). All three offer college credits so that would be a great if I could get a head start on that.

2) Get a job. Preferably retail so I could keep it on my resume for a while.

3) Get accepted to the Nordstrom BP Fashion Board. That would be another great experience for many reasons. A) it would look great on a resume B) it would be a fantastic way to network C) the monthly projects would be a good substitute for FIT (which I won’t be doing next semester).

4) Seriously start working on my portfolio. I won’t have a ton of time this summer so I’d like to knock out a sort of “rough draft” by the end of Spring.

5) Blog more consistently. I could probably handle twice a month at least.

6) Don’t take on too many projects at once. This is a big one and relates to my final resolution, as well.

7) RELAX. When I was about 12, I told myself I needed to be a fashion design prodigy by age 16. And I sort of am! I’ve accomplished quite a lot so now I think I deserve to take a step back and have some fun along with all the other crazy things.

So my question for you is: what is your top New Year’s Resolution and why?

Wiedersehen,

Molly


PC

The First Flood of Criticism

19/10/2014

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As the premiere of Project Runway: Threads (on which I am a featured designer) approaches, it seems that everyone is excited and has something to say. I was pleasantly surprised by how positive the initial response was. Then a couple of days ago, a little clip from the show was posted on Facebook and the not-so-positive words came flooding in.

“UGH another Dance Moms.” “I don’t even like dealing with kids in real life.”

Things like that. There were also some rude comments directed toward the young designers that are just not worth repeating. As Lori Matthews (Alaska’s mom from Toddlers & Tiaras) would say, “You can’t fix stupid.”

I sure did try though! The comments about the show itself didn’t bother me at all but I was (excuse me) pissed at the people who were saying rude things about the designers and then gave me a free speech lecture when I defended them. One of the obvious arguments made was that if they (we) hope to break into the industry, they (we) need to toughen up and take the criticism. I can see the logic there but in this case, it was really just an excuse to for adults to say nasty things about kids online. I’m sixteen years old, one of the oldest designers, so I know there will be quite a bit of criticism coming my way and I’m okay with it because I’ve anticipated it all along. I’m not sure the other designers have though. The youngest is ten (she’s a cutie!) and I sincerely hope she does not see or experience the negativity that’s coming from people, specifically on the Project Runway Facebook page. There’s no way that’s what she signed up for! I always say, “There’s brutal honesty and then there’s just plain brutal.”

Yes, I am of the opinion that at a certain point, you ought to learn to suck it up and deal with harsh words especially in tough business like fashion. However, for most people, age 10/16 is not that point. We’re young and we’re still growing as artists and as people- how are we supposed to reach our full potential if complete strangers are belittling us?

My hope is that once people actually see the show, they’ll realize that the designers are real people and so are the assistants. I’ve talked to almost all of the other designers and they are very nice. The levels of experience vary but there is a lot of talent, passion, and potential there. So if picking on kids make people feel good about themselves, I feel deep sorry for them. They can think whatever they want but I don’t want to see such negativity publicly displayed. Overall, there has been a lot of positivity and support of the show- I refuse to let unpleasant people ruin that.

Here’s my question for you: How do you handle criticism? Do you feel differently when it’s being directed towards a friend rather than yourself? 

Wiedersehen,

Molly.


PC: Judges of S01E01

Don’t forget, Project Runway: Threads premieres October 23rd at 10:30pm/9:30pmC on Lifetime! My episode airs December 11th.

Self-Promotion: when is it shameless and when is it shameful?

07/10/2014

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A pretty straightforward concept. It’s when one promotes themselves or their ideas so others will take notice. I do it all the time! When you work (or aspire to work) in an industry where image and popularity play a large part in success, it may not be a bad idea to do a little shameless self-promotion since these kinds of industries are the hardest to break into. Talent and/or skill is important but you have to put yourself out there if you want people to see how talented and/or skilled you are. Like I mentioned in my Do I really need to know how to sew? post, I’ve gotten many of my best opportunities and experiences just by incredible luck but others I got through really putting myself out there. For example:

Project Runway: Threads. I wasn’t one of the kids who was approached or recommended for the show by someone else. I found out about it because I was on the mailing list for the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, where the show was shot. Now, I never considered applying to FIDM (not that it isn’t a good school, it is, I just was never interested in it) but a while ago, I figured it might be worth putting myself on the mailing list just in case an interesting opportunity should present itself… and it did! I emailed casting a boastful blurb about myself and next thing I know, I’m flying out to Los Angeles to shoot!

– Ragtime. Admittedly, most of my costuming opportunities have come from someone else recommending me (thank you to those who have!) but my most recent one came from sending in an application to a local regional theatre’s costume shop. I got to make a few little contributions to wardrobe, which I’m very excited about, and I look forward to hopefully doing some more there in the future!

SSP is the “elevator pitch,” the business cards, cold calling, the Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc. post that says, “Hey! Check this out!”, the mailing list, the link-back to your own site in a comment on someone else’s.

SSP is wonderful but don’t abuse it because shameless self-promotion can easily cross the line into SHAMEFUL self-promotion (or spam.)

DON’T self-promote when it is inappropriate. We’ve all seen that Instagram post about someone’s pet dying or the Youtube video about fatal bullying where some idiot comments something along the lines of, “Click here to settle your debt!” or “Browse my new Etsy shop!” Don’t be that person.

DON’T self-promote when it is irrelevant. Going to a site just to comment, “Hey check out [xyz]!” is not cool. Post whatever you want on your own site but when your on someone else’s, show them a little respect. Even if you don’t care about their content, at least make an effort to pretend that you do if you’re just going to link-back.

DON’T self-promote when it is unwanted. This is like the other two points but more direct. Don’t send a mass email or make a pitch to people who have not given you permission. It’s rude and it makes you look bad.

DO try to be personable. Include the person’s name so they feel less like they’re receiving a generic message. Let them know that you’d genuinely like to keep in touch with them. Thank them for paying attention to you. If you want to go the extra mile, pay them a personal compliment!

DO acknowledge your followers/contacts/customers. Once you’ve made that connection, try to sustain it. If they leave a comment on your page or send you an email, respond. If they’ve done something that benefitted you, thank them and maybe even mention them in a post. If it works with what you do, offer a limited-time discount or have a giveaway. Send them a Christmas card if that’s your thing!

So here’s my question for you: what have you found to be the most effective way to shamelessly self-promote? Feel free to also include what you do/what it is your promoting.

Wiedersehen,

Molly.

Knowledge of Fashion: Why it’s Important

29/09/2014

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The first day of classes for the fall semester at FIT precollege program was Saturday. I’m taking two classes this semester but the one that really resonated for me was Anatomy of Fashion. In the class, we’ll be learning about the most influential fashion designers and creating projects that relate to them. The professor is very smart and experienced in the fashion industry. One of the most important things that I took away from the class was how valuable it is to be knowledgeable about fashion in the past, present, and future. Not many of my friends know much about designers, even the ones who are also into fashion, so it wasn’t until this class that I realized how necessary it actually is.

– First of all, if for no other reason, you should have basic knowledge of fashion so you don’t appear completely naïve and ignorant when applying to colleges/universities. The professor said he might ask, “Who is your favorite designer?” and people have actually responded, “Macy’s” or “Chanel because my sunglasses are by Chanel.” Yikes.

– If you’re a designer, or even a merchandiser or editor or PR person, it’s good to be constantly excited about different designers, trends, or events. Every once in a while I’ll come across a look in a magazine, online, or in a film and think, “I get that. I respond to that. That inspires me.” I think this is true for anyone. A foodie will be inspired by excellent food, a writer will be inspired by a brilliant novel, etc. But, the only way they can be inspired is if they taste that food or read that novel. People want and need to be stimulated especially people in a field like fashion.

It’s good to know what worked or didn’t work for other designers so you may be less likely to make the same mistakes. “Oh I was thinking of doing something like that but now I see that would have been awful!” Could be a business venture, a design concept, etc.

Having a better understanding of how fashion has grown and changed throughout history and who/what influenced those changes will help you mature as a fashion industry worker. In any field, it’s important to be well-informed. How would an aspiring Broadway performer do if he didn’t know who Oscar Hammerstein was? How would a hopeful Wall St. worker do if he didn’t know who Warren Buffett was?

You’ll be thought of more highly. If someone were to ask you who your favorite up-and-coming designers or favorite designers from the ’50s were and you didn’t know of any, that could be embarrassing. However, if you not only could name two or three but even comment on their aesthetics or latest runway shows, you’d definitely make an impression.

So I have a question for you! Don’t worry, it’s easy: Who is your favorite designer and say one interesting thing about them.

Wiedersehen,

Molly.


PC: Coco Chanel, Anna Wintour, Giorgio Armani.

Links à la Mode: The IFB Weekly Roundup

25/09/2014

I am so excited and honored to be featured in the International Fashion Bloggers: Links à la Mode for the very first time! The post of mine that was selected: Modeling and Nepotism where I discussed models who come from famous families and whether or not they are deserving of the advantages that they’re given in the modeling world. It’s gotten great feedback so if you haven’t read it yet, I’d love it if you would and also share your perspective! While you’re at it, please check out the other fabulous LALM articles. They’re all listed below.
Wiedersehen,
Molly.

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Always Be Prepared

“You can never be over dressed, or under educated.” says Oscar Wilde. And he is right. The thing about style, is that it always depends on the occasion. Being appropriately dressed (even if it’s overdressed) is something a style seeker must always be ready for. Also, what good is style if you’re not up on substance? This week’s link roundup gets you ready for all of that so you’ll never be caught off guard. This season anyway.

Links à la Mode: September 25th

SPONSOR: East Dane Lulu Frost, AD dresses, Yarnz, Miista, MSGM, Senz, Generic Man, 3 Floor, unreal fur, Vince booties & Deux Lux Bags

Want to be featured in Links à la Mode?

1. Read the clarified rules and submit your links on this page: Links à la Mode.
2. If your link was selected and you need this week’s code, visit this page: Links à la Mode Code.

Modeling and Nepotism

17/09/2014

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Kendall Jenner. Ali Lohan. Ava Sambora. Ireland Baldwin. Hailey Baldwin. Kaia Gerber. All “models” that have famous family members. Kendall and Ali have been talked about especially since Kendall walked the runway at NYFW and Ali was featured on OWN’s “Lindsay” mini-series. People wonder whether or not they would be working if they didn’t have those family connections. Well, former-model Gita Hall doesn’t think so!

“…the girls who are trained to do this don’t get the job because these celebrities want the publicity that goes with it. It used to be that the actresses were only in the fan magazines, and that’s where they belong. They don’t belong on the cover of Vogue.”

In part, I agree. Some of the celebrities-turned-models are really not cut out for it. Ali Lohan is facially beautiful but that’s about it. She has no idea of how to work her face or her body. Similar things could be said about Ava, Ireland, and Kaia. Hailey and Kendall, on the other hand, are pretty decent models. Kendall still needs to work on her posture a little and I’d like to see a some more diversity in the kinds of shoots that Hailey does but they both have natural good looks and talent for modeling. However, that’s not to say that I don’t understand the frustration that many feel about them being signed to top modeling agencies like NEXT, Wilhelmina, and Elite simply because of who they are and who they know rather than working their way up. BUT let’s be real. If you wanted to become a model and you could without having to do too much, wouldn’t you take that opportunity? I know I probably would! So don’t blame the celebrity/models, it’s not their fault they lucked out.

So what do YOU think of these celebrity/models? Should agencies be offering them representation because of their social status?

Wiedersehen,

Molly.


PC: Ali, IrelandKendall.

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