Fashion PR Pros: Interview with Lysee Webb of Heatherette


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This post originally appeared on Stylescoop. Reposted with permission.

Lysee Webb at her first fashion show two years ago. She is now the PR director for Heatherette. Just two years ago, Lysee Webb made her way to New York Fashion Week and met two designers she has looked up to the most – Richie Rich and Traver Rains, the dynamic duo behind the “Look at me!” brand Heatherette. Now, she is the brand’s in-house PR director. Read below to find out how she got to where she is, what a “normal” day at Heatherette is like, and what Heatherette is up to next.Hello, can you give us a background on yourself and how you got started in fashion?

I always wanted to be in fashion. I never went through a phase where I contemplated career choices – it was always fashion-related. My friends were imagining their futures as astronauts and doctors and I was making clothes for my Barbie dolls out of ruffle socks.

You made it up to New York just a couple of years ago. What do you think attributed to your great deal of success in such a short period of time?

Several things, first was the understanding that in most cases, college won’t hand a career to you. Attending FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), I was around so much talent and the problem is that people don’t know what to do with it. Perhaps its the stigma that some of the best artists and most creative people are also some of the most introverted. It’s so important to get yourself out there and meet people and a demanding class schedule won’t grant you this privilege. It’s not to say that college isn’t beneficial, but I found that the courses are mostly catered to design students – who actually have to learn a technique and the science behind garment construction.

Another contributing factor was taking risks and networking. One of my favorite stories – After moving to New York, I took a job with a startup magazine purely so I could apply for press passes to various events. I attended my first fashion week through a press pass and gained access to ten shows, including front row at Sass & Bide, purely by luck (see picture above). My editor wouldn’t RSVP me for the Heatherette show (the top show I wanted to see), so I decided to RSVP myself and see how far it got me. I ran into her at the tents the day of the show and she told me to wait in life her and she’d try to sneak me in. When we got to the front of the line, she gave her name and affiliation and the woman replied – “hmmm, I see the magazine but I only have one person RSVPed – Lysee Webb”. I quickly flashed my badge, smiled, and said “that’s me!” and took my seat assignment without ever looking back. This was the first time I met Richie and Traver. I later learned my editor never got into the show.
HeatheretteThat definitely proves having a “go get ’em ” type of attitude is a must in any kind of business. So, what are your primary responsibilites as a PR director?

The responsibility are endless. I love working for such a small team, but it means more responsibilities for everyone. I’ll end up “wrangling” celebrities for the fashion show and at the same time I’ll be ordering envelopes, designing our after party invites, and relaying information from Richie and Traver to our set designer and production team. On an “average” day, I’ll mostly be dealing with loan outs to magazines and celebrities and coordinating special projects for tv/event appearances, collaborations, etc.

With the relevance of bloggers, how do you think this changed the PR game?

Entertainment news used to be distributed on a weekly basis. Entertainment items would be gathered throughout the week and the top stories would be compiled into a tabloid for weekly distribution. Now with online blogging, it’s a nonstop newsfeed. Publicists have no time to do damage control, celebrities have no room for error, stories are released with little to no fact checking, and publicity stunts are far more prevalent and considerably harder to detect. Publicists have to be more creative and clever than they were five years ago. I’m probably the only person working in PR that refuses to read tabloids and gossip blogs.

What do you think is the most challenging part of your job?

It sounds silly but seating our fashion show and trying to please everyone that attends. We send out about 2500-3000 invites, 2000 will RSVP, 2500 will show up – half were uninvited and the other half think they deserve seats in the first row. The space can accommodate roughly 1200 and 98 can be seated in the front row. We’re all up until 4 AM the night before the show trying to do a seating chart but seat assignments become irrelevant because people steal seats. It becomes very political. Two seasons ago we had to bring in 100 volunteers to hold our front row seats and they were only allowed to get up if me or another PR person released them. And then a couple seasons ago, someone scanned our invite into the internet and put detailed instructions on how to crash our show. It’s basically a nightmare.

There definitely have to be some pros with the job though. What are some pros and cons?

The biggest advantage to my job is the spontaneity. I’m hardly ever doing the same thing two days in a row. Just last week I was in Atlantic City on Monday for a press conference, we were nominated and attended an award show on Tuesday, Wednesday I did a million loan outs, Thursday we participated in a charity fashion show, two weeks ago I was in LA… The con is having to pay for the doggy day care when I go away!

What are some tips on how to get started in fashion PR?Lysee Webb with Traver Rains

Network, meet people, communicate, keep in touch. So many people say “well I gave them my resume but then I never heard back.” I get anywhere between 14 to 25 resumes a day and they mean very little without a follow-up phone call or e-mail.

Any fun projects Heatherette is working on?

I’m mostly excited about our MAC line which will be on counters early next year. We were so involved in every aspect: packaging, naming the products, we even mixed some of the colors ourselves! It’ll launch at our next fashion show in February. Another project I always look forward to is our show soundtracks. Everyone in the studio has VERY different music tastes so it’s fun to find a producer that can combine all our tastes AND the theme of the show to create a runway appropriate soundtrack to the show. Lately we’ve been working with Dallas Austin who is honestly one of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

Now to get your opinion on some things in fashion. What do you think the biggest fashion faux pas is?

Instead, I’ll tell you what I’m tired of seeing right now: highwaisted belts that cut girls off right under their breasts – that’s not the natural waist line. I also have always hated muls and kitten heels for some reason. And I absolutely hate when people wear their clothes skin tight. Lately I’ve found myself buying up a size. I also think the hippie look is dying out – no more peasant skirts/dresses/blouses. I think it’s more about rock and roll right now – leather, studs, skinny jeans, and a lot of vintage rock inspired graphics.

Who are your style icons and why?

Keith Richards, Michelle Phillips, The GTOs, Anita Pallenberg, David Bowie. I think an important thing about fashion is that you need to wear your clothes and not let them wear you. You can wear ridiculous things but you have to have the confidence to pull it off. Prince and David Bowie used to do borderline drag outfits, but their confidence – nearing arrogance – made you never question it. I love Michelle Phillips but I also totally admire Cass Elliot. Michelle was this gorgeous, flawless, could be model and Cass stood next to her like she didn’t care.

Rolling Stones vintage t-shirtWhat are your favorite brands?

Aside from Heatherette, I don’t really have a favorite brand. When you go through my wardrobe, there’s not one particular designer that stands out above the rest. I love vintage and I have an over abundance of American Apparel. Right now I’m really into Rick Owens and Ann Demeulemeester. I’d say the thing that stands out most in my wardrobe are my vintage rock t-shirts. My favorite is a special edition 1976 Stones shirt that my boyfriend got me.

What do you think the hot trends will be for the winter?

Who knows, I’m originally from Florida so the concept of seasonal fashion is still a little new to me. I think big colors will be royal purple and royal blue.

To find out more about Heatherette visit their Myspace page

Crosby Noricks

Crosby Noricks

Known as the “fashion publicist’s most powerful accessory,” (San Diego Union-Tribune) and the “West Coast ‘It’ girl of fashion PR,” (YFS Magazine) Crosby Noricks put fashion public relations on the digital map when she launched PR Couture in 2006. She is the author of Ready to Launch: The PR Couture Guide to Breaking into Fashion PR, available on Amazon. A decade later, Crosby is a successful fashion marketing strategist who spends her time championing PR Couture's growth and mentoring fashion publicists through her signature online course PRISM. Learn more about opportunities to work directly with Crosby at her website