Designers, editors, industry professionals, and students alike gathered at New York CIty’s Hudson Theater on the weekend of October 22nd. Why? For Teen Vogue Fashion University, an exclusive fashion education event. Only 500 young hopefuls were accepted, and I was one of them! Keep reading for the inside scoop on the TVFU classes I attended, shopping events, and more.
+ Friday, October 21st
Friday was the kickoff shopping event at H&M—and a great way to get students excited! Free hair feathering was offered, as well as refreshments, a live band, and a 25% discount. Score!
+ Saturday, October 22nd
On Saturday, class was in full session—students chose 4 classes to attend in smaller groups, as well as attending the opening and closing seminars all together. We picked up our swag bags and got started!
MAN OF THE HOUR: Michael Kors
Fashion U 2011’s keynote speaker was American icon Michael Kors. Known for his classic designs and spot on the hit TV show “Project Runway,” Kors’s seminar was much-anticipated. He started off the day by talking to all attendees about his life, career, and tips of the trade. Some memorable moments:
-A video featuring images and video of Kors throughout his career, including a clip where he explained, “You can fake black, but you can’t fake camel.”
-Kors on his true passion: “No matter what I do, and all the different things…you know, now we’re all hyphenated. You’re a designer/television star/travel authority/businesswoman…but at the end of the day, my day job and my real love is being a designer.”
Kors actually was one of the original “hyphenators!” From a young age, he worked as a clerk at a boutique where he later sold his own designs, and even organized the window displays. Talk about marketable!
-On getting a job in the industry: “I’m not trying to sound shallow and terrible, but fashion is about style, so look fabulous once you get your foot in the door!”
-On perfection: “When I see a woman who’s too manicured, too glossed up, it always kind of freaks me out! I’m more interested in the girl who just threw her hair in a ponytail with her [red-carpet] gown…what’s perfect is knowing yourself.”
I was pleasantly surprised by how nice and funny Kors truly is. Seeing him only on “Project Runway,” he seems very harsh, but I think that’s only because he has been put in a position to judge. He was very down to earth, and his story of working his way from the bottom was admirable.
ADORABLY AWKWARD: Alexander Wang
When you see Alexander Wang, you really can’t help but say/think “awww.” He has a very young, quiet demeanor for someone so successful, which was refreshing. It was a joy to hear him speak about his life and line.
On the start of his career: “I looked at Central St. Martins, and Otis, and Parsons, and I kind of just decided that New York was the place where I was going to start. From a young age, I had a strong work ethic, so the first thing I wanted to do when I moved to New York was get a job.”
Wang eventually dropped out of Parsons to start his own line. He didn’t give details, but his strong work ethic likely led him to where he is today.
On his first designs: “You know, now I say boyfriend sweater and I’m so sick of that terminology! But they were sort of oversized, the idea was unisex….and it sort of evoked a certain mood. Women’s Wear Daily wrote a small article on [the sweaters] a day prior to my first trade show, and I was so surprised that there were that many buyers on the first day—the power of Women’s Wear Daily! That day, we signed like 80 stores, and we were like, ‘What do we do now?’”
On a defining moment: "Opening the store…that’s a moment when you really are controlling the whole process. Up to that point, you’ve designed the product—you’ve made it, you’ve shipped it, okay, now what? You have to design the store, you have to hire the people that are going to work there, you have sales goals that you need to meet, and you have to bring people into the store, and figure out the whole experience. That’s been a big milestone. "
ALL-AMERICAN APPAREL: Styling with Mary-Kate Steinmiller
The next class I attended was with Teen Vogue’s Mary Kate Steinmiller. She explained to us her position at the magazine, Teen Vogue’s constant use of American Apparel items, and we even had a styling competition!
Steinmiller is the Fashion Market Editor for Teen Vogue, which means that she is in charge of bringing in all clothing for various shoots. She made it clear that she is not a stylist! However, she has a great eye and because of her relationships with designers and brands, able to get pieces stylists request. And if not—she’ll get something similar, or even make it herself! Steinmiller has a small jewelry business that started out of an accessory necessity for a Teen Vogue shoot.
American Apparel basics are a staple in the Teen Vogue fashion closet—they’ve got racks of brightly colored bodysuits, jeans, and button-down shirts. We got to pull items from the racks to style Teen Vogue-worthy looks!
FROM INTERN TO IT-GIRL: Whitney Port
Mary Kate Steinmiller moderated my next seminar as well, which was with reality star-turned-designer Whitney Port. Port actually got her start as an intern at Teen Vogue, and she spoke to us about her transition from television personality to designer.
From style mishaps (she wore jeans to her Teen vogue internship interview!) to shocking successes (getting her own show, The City), Port has had a whirlwind rise to the top. She now has her own line, Whitney Eve, and counts her first show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week as an “I’ve made it!” moment.
Port was quite humble in person, and wasn’t afraid to admit “that’s a difficult question!” Interesting facts: She listens to country music to get inspired, her family is her strongest support system, and Kelly Cutrone of People’s Revolution is nicer than she seems.
WORKING THE DREAM: The Editorial Tour
Finally, the chance a million girls (and probably some boys) would kill for—to step foot inside the offices of editorial greats Amy Astley, Shiona Turini, Eva Chen, Andrew Bevan, and more! Take note:
Amy Astley has the most gorgeous office and view. Duh, she’s the editor in chief. When we got there, she was writing her editor’s letter for the magazine! Her interior designs tastes are very chic, and she likes lots of trinkets, candles, and books.
Shiona Turini’s office was second-most-beautiful, in my opinion. Shoes, bags, and jewelry were EVERYWHERE. It was like a mini-fashion closet, right in her office. It was difficult to resist the urge to try anything on, seriously.
Eva Chen’s desk was covered in beauty products (especially nail polishes), which makes sense—she is the Beauty Editor, after all. Notice the Valentinos under her desk—if you follow her on Tumblr, you may have noticed she’s got great taste in shoes.
We didn’t actually go inside Andrew Bevan’s office, but I spotted one of his signature boldly-colored trenchcoats (yellow!) draped over his chair. I previously flagged him down for a photo with a ton of other girls, at which point he exclaimed, “I feel like Miley Cyrus!”
Entertainment Director Danielle Nussbaum had pop-culture collages covering the walls of her office—although I’m not allowed to disclose who was in them!
Other interesting spots were the various editing rooms, where we saw covers from upcoming issues, stacks and stacks of archived issues, and the famed fashion closet.
Shelves upon shelves of shoes (especially Converses and Doc Martens) line the walls of the Teen Vogue fashion closet. There are some racks of clothing scattered about, but the items that always stick around are Teen Vogue’s staple accessories. Our tour guides told us that it isn’t really like in “The Devil Wears Prada”—it is definitely not the place of an assistant or anyone lower than editor-status to pull items from the closet for their own personal use. Ah well, I guess I’ll just have to work my way up.
Other notables at TVFU on Saturday: Betsey Johnson, Chris Benz, Jason Wu, Rebecca Minkoff, Amy Levin, Dr. Howard Murad, and the boys of Proenza Schouler.
We finished up with another all-students-attend seminar: A Q&A with Teen Vogue Editors Amy Astley, Gloria Baume, Jane Keltner de Valle, Shiona Turini, Danielle Nussbaum, and Andrew Bevan.
After class was over, all students were invited to a shopping event as TopShop in Soho, where we were offered makeovers, an abundance of sweet treats, and a 20% discount.
+ Sunday, October 23rd
On Sunday, all students attended another seminar and had graduation photos taken.
This panel spoke to students about their online presence and the digital age of fashion. Their words were enlightening! I especially enjoyed hearing about Aliza Licht’s story as DKNY’s infamous PR Girl.
I encourage all of you (between the ages of 16 and 22) to apply next year!
by Heather (headbandit)