Averi Collins | Features Editor
Former Hampton University student, Kiara Bass was given the opportunity to work with a top marketing and communications firm as a public relations intern. One of her responsibilities as an intern was to work behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week. While there she learned a lot and had a once in a lifetime opportunity, she shares with her fellow Hamptonians and Features Editor Averi Collins what it was like to work fashion week and the tools anyone would need to reach for their dreams.
Averi Collins: What agency do you work for and why did you choose to apply for that agency?
Kiara Bass: LaForce + Stevens is the agency I’m currently interning for. It is kind of a funny story; I honestly wasn’t going to apply for the position because I applied to the company before for other positions, and was not accepted. But after consulting a Howard alumna that I know who currently works for the company, she encouraged me to apply and I end up getting the position.
AC: How were you granted the opportunity to work behind the scenes of NYFW?
KB: My position is a fashion public relations intern, so ultimately working behind the scenes for New York Fashion Week was in the job description amongst other things.
AC: What was your role at fashion week?
KB: This may not sound glamorous at all but I did a lot of prepping of clothes in office and working with production crew with arranging seating cards at the venues. I also got a chance to check in guests when the doors opened for the shows I worked.
AC: How many shows have you seen?
KB: I saw a total of two shows, the Mara Hoffman show and the Concept Korea show.
AC: Which was your favorite?
KB:The Mara Hoffman show was my favorite out of the two. There were tons of big name fashion editors, celebrities, and models who attended and were in the event. Also the collection was very nice and I enjoyed the overall theme of the show.
AC: What are the models like?
KB: So we always see these articles and stories about model’s behaviors and how some can be prima donnas. However, from my experience they are just very focus and often quiet individuals. A lot of them just wanted to make sure they were at the right venue and on time for run throughs and to get make-up and hair done. It was nice to see that it is an actual job which they work hard in doing and that all the glitz and glam you hear is really just an exaggeration when it comes to their lifestyles and everyday life.
AC: How does the show work?
KB: Fashion shows I realized are very short. There is a ton of prepping and organizing months before the actual event. From my experience they are less than an hour long, probably between 20-45 minutes, depending on designer and how large the collection is. This year NYFW was a bit different because it wasn’t in its long time location, which was Bryant Park, and Mercedes Benz was not the major sponsor this year. Also things were less commercialized. But photographers, make-up artists, hair stylists, and models check in backstage where they received ‘credentials, which is basically a pass telling security they are authorized to be back there. From there they may do a few run throughs while the production team sets up the runway with what props and lighting needed for the show. Then about 30 mins before the show guest come to check in and find their seats, after check in is over the show begins.
AC: What are we expected to see in the fashion world next year?
KB: So NYFW in the fall displays spring collections that are to be in stores, well in the spring of next year. Some trends you can be on the look out for are ruffles, 70’s inspired pieces, so a lot of prints, neutral colors, and slowly chiffon material. As well as bohemian style fringe weave on jackets and vests, like how Tina Turner’s dress had a lot of fringe to help add to her choreography, and slouchy low-rise trousers.
AC: What was the best and worst advice you have gotten this week?
KB: I can honestly say that I didn’t receive any bad advice doing the week. However the best advice I received was to always be extra prepared. You always want to be organized and go the extra step so that the whole process goes smoothly.
AC: What advice would you like to give journalism majors trying to get into the fashion industry?
KB: My advice for aspiring fashion journalists and anyone who wants to work in the fashion industry period is to network and use your contacts. This is something I had to learn even over the summer time with trying to be employed and find a position in my dream career path. The fashion industry is all about who you know and there is slim chance of getting your foot in the door even if you are qualified for the position. With that being said, do not be afraid to reach out to those who already work in the industry via LinkedIn. There are quite a few HBCU grads who work in the industry and who are more than willing to give you advice and even may ask to see your resume to shop it around at their company.
My other piece of advice would to not give up. I have a friend who graduated in 2014 who was freelancing a bit in fashion journalism but couldn’t secure a job. In August of this year she got her ideal position at Essence magazine. Being consistent and persistent is what will get you at your dream company and more. There will be a lot of rough times, rejections, frustrations, but the key is to not give up. If you are going about trying to secure a position a certain way and it hasn’t been working, try going a different route. There is always a way in you just have to find the best you can squeeze in. And that doesn’t mean it will be the most perfect position either, but the fashion industry is all about paying your dues and once you do that more doors will open for you if you are taking the right step.