Category Archives: Interview

Teen Vogue on Fashion University and Thakoon

58729904Photo: Getty Images

With the intent to educate, Teen Vogue hosted Fashion University — moderated by Teen Vogue‘s Editor-in-Chief Amy Astley — for Vogue Teen‘s subscribers and aspiring fashion designers, and sat down with Richard Chai, Philip Crangi, and Thakoon Panichgul, who invited questions about their – namely Thakoon’s – meteoric rise to fame.  Fashionista revealed the details:

His family didn’t initially accept his career in fashion. His mother and grandmother were expert seamstresses and didn’t see why he wanted to make a career out of something that they saw as just “work”. He learned how to sew very young and that fashion was much more hard work than glamour.

He was a small-town boy. Raised in Omaha, Thakoon would hunt down editorials by Bruce Weber and looked forward to reading Vogue every month. They gave him a sense of escape and were his only real form of inspiration in his town. He sites art as his biggest design influence.

He went to business school. He got a scholarship out of high school and felt that if he didn’t attend he would regret missing the opportunity. After graduation, he did everything he could to break into the fashion industry, and he took a job at J-Crew as a production assistant. Next, he started writing for Harper’s Bazaar, while at the same time spending all of his nights and weekends taking classes at Parson’s.

He never has preconceived ideas for his collections. He doesn’t create his pieces around a common theme. Instead, it’s always a design detail that he’s into that shapes the collection.

His interns go places. Thakoon hires very few interns, but he keeps them around a long time. He wants them to learn about every aspect of his business, and will make them work in various other departments before they ever get to design. One of his three year interns recently moved to Paris to take a job with Azzedine Alaia. Impressive.

His number one tip for future designers: be well-rounded. Thakoon firmly believes that your teens and early twenties are meant to be filled with learning experiences. He suggests taking as many opportunities to learn as you can, whether it be through schooling, interning, or reading (ie: Women’s Wear Daily) to arm yourself with knowledge of the industry. [Fashionista]

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Anna Wintour’s Word of Advice for Designers and Journalists (Listen Up)

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Teen Vogue’s interview with Anna Wintour unearthed a goldmine of information for entry-level designers, journalists and stylists like us — it’s Socialism at its best. When advice weighs heavier than a free pair of Christian Louboutin booties (it’s that heavy) take the free advice to heart, please.

What advice do you have for a young person who is interested in fashion design?
Don’t go too fast. Because of reality television and all these celebrities thinking they can be designers, everyone imagines that they can just become a designer, photographer, or model, but that’s not the way things work. People have to go to school, learn their craft, and build a brand—that’s the right, healthy way to do things. If you’re an overnight sensation, you can be yesterday’s news in no time, whereas building something slowly and carefully that has value and quality, that’s what’s going to have legs. You’d be amazed at how many people come in here, and they make perfectly nice clothes, but they don’t understand how to differentiate their brand from another, or they don’t have a business plan, or they don’t know where to produce things. Don’t run before you can crawl. It’s a very hard business, full of many, many extremely creative, talented people who work hard and still fail. If you have the basic building blocks behind you, you’re much more likely to do well.

When you’re hiring someone for an entry-level position at Vogue, what do you look for?
I look for someone who has actually read the magazine. People will say, “Oh, I love
Vogue,” but when I ask them to tell me something specific they liked, or a photographer whose work they enjoy, they look at me as if I’m crazy. Do your homework, go online, visit every museum, and intern. I like having young assistants in my office; they have energy, and I spend time with them to make sure they understand what we’re doing. By investing in them, I’m investing in the magazine. All over Vogue, Teen Vogue, and Men’s Vogue, there are people who have been through not only my office but also many other offices at Vogue.

Is there a “wrong” thing to wear to an interview with you?
A suit, I have to say. But who knows? Maybe next year I’ll love suits. And I don’t mind jeans. If there’s a girl applying to work in the fashion department and she comes in here with a great pair of jeans pulled together with the right top, it’s fine.
[Teen Vogue]

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Advice: Deadline Passed? Cold Email – Don’t Ask

I stopped my friend from writing an email to a prospective employer. How was I a good friend you might ask? Long story short, she was in the middle of writing an email to the intern coordinator of a specified internship about its availability despite the three week past-due deadline. Here is where this piece of advice comes in handy. Always, always, always cold email your resume and (if required) cover letter. Editors and employers do not have time nor the patience to reply to your email asking you for your resume when hundreds have flooded their inbox just weeks before — if you think about it, an editor could spend that same time reading through your resume. If you’re qualified, he or she might squeeze you into the list of interview candidates. But, don’t wait around for a reply and get your hopes up — you were late after all. If you’ve been stood up, don’t take it personally. You didn’t have anything to lose.

If you’re not convinced, I cold emailed my resume and cover letter two weeks late for a magazine internship at Condé Nast. To my surprise, I noticed a reply from the magazine’s editor in my inbox asking me to come in for an interview.

Now to prove just why you have nothing to lose, Mo heard back from Elle magazine after submitting her application nearly an year ago. Yes it happens. They do keep your record on file if they can’t accept you, but don’t want to let go of you just yet.

P.S. If you’re looking to reapply, of course resend your UPDATED resume (and cover letter).

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Check Out My Interview With Joel McHale!

Joel Mchale dishes on ‘Community,’ Ryan Seacrest

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Thanks!

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What To Wear: Fashion Job/Internship Interview

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Having had a substantial amount of interview experience in this cut-throat industry, I’ll offer you a few tips on how to dress for an interview to snag that fashion related job or internship of your dreams:

So you’ve finally received that anticipated reply from Harpers Bazaar asking you you’re available to come in for an interview. You’re excited, nervous, but the worry, forefront on your mind, is about what to pull out of your wardrobe.

Being in fashion, you will want to keep up to date in the trends, but it’s also best to keep in mind that you also want to look professional (cover up please). With that being said, certain articles from flip flops and ripped jeans, to caps and t-shirts should be left in the closet for this particular occasion.

Reminiscing about my interview attire this summer, I wore a pair of black trousers that fell above the ankle, with a black cashmere sleeveless  turtleneck top, and a pair of red Prada moccasins accented by a red leather square briefcase made by La Chaise Longue (similar to the look above).

It’s unnecessary to wear 7-inches heels (which can appear a bit intimidating for others and can also make you feel out of place) or suits for that matter, because many of you will find that magazine offices and designers’ studios are surprisingly, relatively laid back.

All in all, you’re interviewing to prove that you can take on the responsibilities of the prospective position. Although your attire during an interview has substantial weight in the editor’s decision, you’ll find yourself without a job if you walk in unprepared and unable to answer the editor’s questions (Refer to the previous posts on important interview questions that may be asked of you).

On a final note, I’d rethink painted black nails.

Good luck!

— Mo Luan

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Advice: Interview Questions Continued…

Here is a continuation of interview questions that I’ve encountered and a few words of advice for those neophytes out there.

Why do you want to work in this industry?

Give some thought to this question prior to the interview. “Because I have a passion for fashion,” is my editor’s personal pet peeve. You don’t want to give them that answer.

One small tip to keep in mind: if you can condense your resume into one-page, do so by all means necessary — according to my editor, she just does not read anything longer than a page. Quoted verbatim, she divulged, “There isn’t any reason why it should be more than a page.”

— Mo Luan

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Advice: So You’ve Gotten the Internship But You’ve Graduated…

You commit yourself enough by taking an unpaid internship. But, an unpaid internship after college? It’s a depressing prospect, but a very real one at that. So what do you do? Although you’re technically out of college and ineligible for credits, you’re set if you’re buddy-buddy with a former professor. Ask (nicely) if that professor could type up a letter (printed on your alma mater letter head) stating that the professor would be overseeing a graduate degree credit from your alma mater. Editorials are familiar with graduates, some who return to the internship for several years, who are hopeful that their boss will soon be fired promoted.

— Francis Bea

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