Dining with designer Michael Kors, drinking with fashion stylist Rachel Zoe, dancing with actress Selma Blair – a million girls would kill for my job, right?
I’ve been in New York for the past seven months working as an intern at
Teen Vogue and Interview magazine, and quickly advancing to the ranks
of front-row seating at Fashion Week. Sounds too good to be true, but
before I go on, let’s get a few things straight.
Randi Bergman, the intern, was a cheap commodity.
First, interning in New York City could not be further from glamorous if it involved dressing up in lederhosen. (Yes, gals, that means all fond memories you may have of L.C and Whitney having a gay old time in the Teen Vogue office on the TV reality series The Hills can escape your mind now…) Although interns are the foundation of the fashion industry, they are treated as cheap commodities: willing and able bodies who salivate at the very thought of running into the likes of Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine.
Second, attending Fashion Week in New York is far from fun and games. For more than a week, my schedule consisted of running across town, tape recorder in hand, from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m., and writing from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.
But let’s start from the beginning. After graduating from the fashion communications program at Toronto’s Ryerson University last spring, I decided to try my hand in New York. Since I had no experience in the United States, I had to start at square one, the world of not getting paid – standing on my feet for more than 10 hours a day, lifting boxes heavier than anvils, running around town doing pickups and drop-offs at the whims of anyone who felt like it… yipee!
My first day at Teen Vogue, I headed for 4 Times Square (the headquarters of Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ) with an optimistic head on my shoulders and one-size-too-small boots on my feet. Just after I got there, I stepped into a closet chock-full of American Apparel leggings, Marc Jacobs dresses and Miu Miu heels, and I dropped my bags and got right to work.
Although a handful of interns were already there, the work never seemed to subside. Halfway through the day, my boss mentioned that one of us would have to run over to Louis Vuitton. Like any fashion enthusiast, I jumped at the chance!
With mock importance, I pranced into the store. Surely mentioning Teen Vogue had got to give me some clout, right? As soon as I mentioned the name, however, I was shuffled into the dingy delivery office to pick up the package. As I hurried back to the office, I realized that my brilliant plan of wearing size eight boots was starting to backfire. By the end of day one, I had cut into multiple layers of skin. Très classy.
After a few gruelling days at Teen Vogue, I was ready to switch gears into the arty world of Interview. Not only was the magazine known for keeping its finger on the pop-culture pulse, but more importantly for me, the magazine was also started by the absolute love of my life – artist Andy Warhol. Working there would be like walking in his footsteps.
The closet would be the closest I’d ever get to the likes of designer Halston, model Edie Sedgwick or the singer Nico, never mind that the office has changed location at least twice since Warhol’s heyday and that Halston, Sedgwick and Nico have long since bit the dust.
The atmosphere at Interview proved to be more relaxed than Teen Vogue, though no less fascinating. Instead of editors barking orders, this time it was fellow interns! While out of the boss’ earshot, my intern counterpart whispered sweet nothings such as “I just want to let you know, if anyone’s going on a photo shoot, it will be me.” Much to his chagrin and to my surprise, I was asked to help on the set on my second day at the magazine.
One sample-ridden day in the Teen Vogue closet, the boss called all the interns into his office for a meeting. It turned out that the actress Sarah Jessica Parker was coming to our office! Oh. My. God. My legs were jelly.
Scenes for the Sex and the City movie that included Parker’s character, Carrie, were to be filmed at Teen Vogue. The very reason I moved to New York was going to be standing in front of me within a matter of hours! What to wear!
The next day, the office had been transformed into a movie set. Parker was in the building. May I repeat: Oh. My. God. After filming was through, I sneakily followed SJP into the bathroom. To say what? I had no idea. As I ogled her, dumbfounded at how truly beautiful she was, she smiled and made pleasantries. My only reply was “ummmm.”
As my internships were coming to a close, I was hooked up with the fashion department at Page Six Magazine, the new magazine offshoot of the New York Post column, to pick clothes for a photo shoot with indie actress and fashion icon Chloë Sevigny. A million girls would kill for my job, right? A million Americans maybe. A week or so into the job, and thankfully after the photo shoot, I was called into the human resources department and scolded for not having the right visa to be working there. Not only would they not help me with getting a new visa, but I was also out of the magazine, for good.
After a few weeks of panicking, I was miraculously hired by Fashion Week Daily, the cult magazine read by fashion insiders across the globe, to report during Fashion Week. Since my visa was problematic, they agreed to pay me per day. It was my job to talk to every designer, model and celebrity who crossed my path.
My first assignment with the Daily was to attend a private dinner given by Saks Fifth Avenue in honour of Michael Kors’ spring collection. Hard life, right? Arriving at the dinner, however, was a different story. I stood paralyzed at the door, imagining a group of editors inside, forks in hand, glaring at whoever had the nerve to interrupt their dinner. My ears were ringing: “A million girls would kill for your job!” More like, a million girls would kill themselves if they had your job.
After the initial freak out, I had no choice but to quite literally eat, breathe and live fashion. It was lunch with fashion critic Steven Cojocaru, then off to the Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton party (oozing with actress Anne Hathaway, model Heidi Klum, actor Josh Hartnett and actress Ellen Pompeo, just to name a few). And as for my obsession with the ghost of Halston past? I got to sit front row at the label’s relaunch… across from Liza Minnelli. At night, I shuffled between parties for fashion designer Matthew Williamson, model Agyness Dean, Sevigny and the list goes on. Afterward, I’d limp home, gift bags bursting, and drag my tired body to the computer and write what would then be put into print for the next day’s magazine.
As my stint during Fashion Week has long since passed, this front rower is back at square one, Canadian passport hidden in her back pocket.