**The following is a guest post from Jenny Raja, a junior marketing and psychology major at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Jenny recently spent a summer abroad interning at a London Fashion PR agency. She can be reached at jennyraja[at]gmail[dot]com**
Fashion PR: Beyond the Glitz and Glamour
G.L.A-M.O.R.O-U-S. Similar to Fergie, I too got a chance to taste life in the fast lane. Working for a Fashion PR firm in London last summer, I was exposed to the all of the latest designs from clients such as Versace, Tommy Hilfiger, Orla Kiely, and 7 For All Mankind. As the wide-eyed American intern, I flipped out to find Halle Berry’s Oscar gown by Elie Saab just lying around the office showroom. My colleagues may have teased me, but I certainly took pictures to document my findings to share with my friends back home.
And don’t get me started on preparations for In-Style’s Fifth Birthday Party, held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which featured the most famous dresses through the years. In the showroom, I held one of Gianni Versace’s most famous designs: the 1994 black dress held together with gold safety pins. Meanwhile, our company co-director nonchalantly recollected the day Liz Hurley came in to the office with then-boyfriend Hugh Grant to find a dress to wear to a film premiere. After many unsuccessful attempts, she found this gown tucked in a corner cabinet and then *poof!* she made it big on the red carpet.
Yes, London had its glamour. Photo shoots at Vogue, spending the day on set with two foreign (and might I add, very attractive) male models, getting pampered by hair and makeup, meeting distinguished members of the press while presenting the new collection at Boucheron. But it wasn’t always fun and games every day. I spent many hours sitting in waiting rooms, being blown off by snobby European photographers, and sorting through piles of clothes in the returns room. Long days at the office were spent organizing clothes and merchandising the showroom and even that I did in the “American” style, sorting things by color and print, like I do in my own bedroom closet, something they didn’t have room for in their British armoires!
Our firm focused on product placement, so I spent my mornings sourcing magazines and sitting in front of the computer creating Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations for our clients. Besides my love for Microsoft Office and trashy fashion/gossip magazines, the work didn’t always live up to my glamorous image of the London high-street fashion world. Although I excitedly brought home the latest Swarovski jewelry and newest John Freida products, my coworkers constantly discussed their jaded attitudes towards their jobs. Even though they were traveling to meet clients in places like Ireland and Copenhagen, they complained that the novelty wore off and the glamorous life got old.
These conversations may have slightly discouraged my interest in Fashion PR, yet nonetheless, I very much enjoyed my learning experience. As a marketing major, I learned a great deal about our clients’ target markets and promotions in the U.K. Additionally, the chance to travel around Europe over the summer made participating in my program a really enjoyable time and a great investment. If you are interested in joining the Fashion PR scene, I would really suggest considering a summer internship in the field: it will provide you to a lot of exposure to the industry and help you figure out what suits your interests. Use your networks and school career center for job contacts. And when you score a position, be sure to get involved. Ask questions and work hard. Remember, although your Fashion PR experience may not always be filled with glamour, there is value in taking a break from the fast lane. After all, it’s important to not just have fun but to learn from your experiences.
(model picture was taken at the AXM shoot for the October issue. Fashion Editor: Andrew Lister, Photographer: Cameron McNee)