I would just like to quickly clarify that, unlike many other fashion lovers, I am NOT a Carrie Bradshaw fanatic! Yes, her clothes are faaaaaabulous (due to the sheer genius of Patricia Fields) but I still find Carrie – and from the impression I gathered after seeing her on Jonathan Ross, Sarah Jessica Parker herself – to be insecure, self-obsessed and neurotic to the point of mild insanity. But, that being said, as I sit at the window of my very petite apartment typing away with a cigarette and cup of Earl Grey (you can take the girl out of England…) I do feel a little like I am living in an episode of Sex And The City… and I LOVE it!
I have just finished my first week as an intern at Baron Baronne, and have learnt more about the fashion industry (not all of it too pretty!) than I would have thought possible. The amount of time, effort, money (blood, sweat and tears etc) that goes into putting a collection together and getting it down the runway and onto the shop floor is just unreal.
Anyway, more about the cut throat nature of the fashion world later. Here’s what I wore on monday to make my all-important first impression on Baron Baronne’s ‘createurs’ Sibylle Genin and Lambert Perera…
After careful deliberation I decided on, wait for it…. a classic breton striped number! Although this time in the form of a casual day-dress rather than a t-shirt (mixing things up… sort of). I teamed it with a vintage denim jacket that belonged to my mother a long, long time ago, my big, cream tote by Reiss (perfect for lugging around essentials like maps, french dictionaries and multiple magazines), grey brogues and, as always, a pair of oversized sunglasses. I thought the overall look was relaxed and effortless, but still stylish and I felt pretty confident as I walked through the door. Of course, immediately after meeting Sibylle (below) I simply felt like a gauche Anglaise as she is utterly gorgeous and does simplistic, nonchalant elegance as only the French can.
On my first afternoon (I didn’t start until 2, so got in an extra morning of shopping) I got to know Sibylle and Lambert a bit better using a bizarre mixture of English and (very bad) French and Spanish. They explained to me how they’re currently preparing to present their Spring/Summer 2011 menswear collection during Paris Fashion Week at the end of June (which is incidentally next week!). They are presenting their collection alongside those of other up-and-coming European designers to buyers from all over the world at their showroom in the centre of Paris starting next thursday.
Here is the invitation to the ironically named ‘Another Showroom’…
Having never been to one before I am ridiculously excited to be working at the showroom as it means I have to actually be there, with the buyers, and designers and critics, oh my! However, I’m possibly even more excited to be invited to the after-party… Although when I will be able to shop before hand I have no idea… But I’m going to have to find the time as if ever there was an occasion that justifies buying an entire new outfit it is a fashion week after-party!
My task for the week has been to call, email, harass, stalk, pressure, and employ any other possible means to pursuade buyers from every desirable shop under the sun, to attend the showroom. It’s quite a frustrating task at times. I’ve had the endless annoyance of time differences to contend with, as well as the nightmare that is automated operator services (yes Bloomingdales I am talking about YOU).
I quickly discovered that getting the invite out to the right buyers and then chasing them up for their response is utterly essential to the success of the showroom. Of course I am thrilled not to just be a professional tea and coffee maker… but the fact that whether or not Baron Baronne’s latest collection makes it into the shops rests on my ability to convince buyers to attend their showroom, is ever-so-slightly stressful!
When the buyer from BERGDORF GOODMAN finally confirmed their attendance after an afternoon of being directed and re-directed to every voicemail, operator, and assistant in the New York area, I literally jumped for joy. Sibyille probably now thinks that I’m a little mad (or maybe just English and eccentric?) But after hours of listening to the soul-destroying music that you tend to be played when put ‘on hold’, I was so relieved that I didn’t even care.
It must be fantastic to be a fashion buyer for a lovely boutique or an upmarket department store. There are the obvious perks of the job, such as attending all the most desirable fashion shows, shmoozing at glamorous after-parties, and generally getting paid to select the choicest pieces from the most covetable collections each season. But more than just that, buyers seem to have a unique way of making themselves totally unreachable by all forms of modern communication. I have spent the past week getting put through to hundreds voicemails, receiving countless ‘out of office’ replies to my emails and being told by harassed assistants all over the world that Mr so-and-so is away for a few days. This has led to the conclusion that being a fashion buyer would just be the most fantastic life: every body wants to get hold of you, but not even the most determined of callers can actually reach you unless you want them to.
According to my boyfriend, this jacket ‘wierdly shaped and unfeminine’. I feel that this whole outfit is probably his worst nightmare. I think it’s really quite chic, in a slightly formal sort of way. I got these city shorts a couple of seasons ago from French Connection, and they’re undeniably cute. Unfortunately due to their shape and gold button detailing they go with virtually nothing and have therefore only had about 3 outings in all the time that I’ve had them. I think they work here though teamed with a plain white tank and neutral pumps. The soft shape of the jacket stops the whole thing looking too tailored and generally like a small boys school uniform.
By day 4, I finally had some success with my buyer-stalking endeavours. After seemingly decades of fruitless calling I finally seem to be getting somewhere with the buyers. The trick seems to be bombarding them with emails and calls giving them my spiel as ‘sales assistant for Baron Baronne, up-and-coming, young, designer ready-to-wear brand’ and banging on about the exciting collections being shown at Another Showroom. Anyway I felt pretty perky as I popped out for some apres work drinks near my flat in the lovely Latin Quarter…
I thought this outfit was suitably stylish for a ‘fashion sales assistant’ (I love my new, slightly self-appointed title!) grabbing a glass of vin blanc at a chic Parisian bar. The beautiful cream chiffon top is by a relatively new label called Maje (more on them later). These jeans were a very recent purchase from the Paul and Joe boutique in St Germain de Pres. I added my black leather bag and jacket to contrast with the delicate prettiness of the top. All in all, I think that tight jeans+pretty top+leather jacket is a pretty fail-safe formula for a not-too-smart but not totally casual evening ensemble.
Qu’une semaine longue ! Je suis si prêt pour le week-end…
So, my first week at Baron Baronne is coming to an end. All in all, I think it’s gone pretty well. My final task for the week is to track down the Japanese buyers to invite them to our showroom. I attempted this the other day unsuccessfully due to severe language barriers. Apparently the majority of Japanese fashion buyers do not speak ANY English whatsoever. Whilst I’m willing to learn French for the sake of a career in fashion, I think attempting Japanese would be beyond my linguistic abilities! I’m bracing myself for a draning, caffeine fuelled second attempt at catching those elusive Japanese buyers as I hold out no great hopes that their English skills will have improved all that dramatically over the past couple of days…
Again, I assumed it would be sunny today, again I was mistaken. But despite not being the warmest of outfits, I think that this high-waisted khaki skirt, ballet pumps, denim jacket combo works well together and looks, dare I say it, a little french. The T-shirt is by Religion. They make the coolest tees and tanks. I made my first purchase of an AMAZING black studded t-shirt from them a year or so ago and haven’t looked back since. Here I think the t-shirt keeps the whole look casual and stops it from appearing overly ‘put-together’ and cutesy.
Anyway, I must get back to harassing the Japanese… and planning my outfits for the weekend. It’s my birthday tomorrow and what better way to celebrate reaching the grand old age of nineteen than by dressing up and going out dancing in Paris… I can almost taste the Kir Royale’s now!
Love Ella. X