Work Experience Week: A Taste of the Big Apple

Walking into the Conde Nast building, 4 Times Square, NYC, was a surreal and exhilarating moment. This time last year I could never have imagined I would be lucky enough to spend three months interning Ugly Betty/Lauren Conrad style.


I was working in the Bookings Department of Allure Magazine and can honestly say it was a great experience. I learnt a lot, building upon my previous editorial experience with Enigma Magazine, I was able to see truly how a New York fashion magazine functions and how a team works hard together to produce each and every issue to perfection.


My department were responsible for absolutely everything involved in preparing for a photo shoot. I was given the responsibility to perform everything from paperwork to production. I became friends with those whom I worked for and was trusted to help in decision-making and give ideas. The things I enjoyed most were location scouting and model castings, where I would come into the office and I look through each model’s portfolio, have a casual chat with them and take photos of them to present to my bosses, who would then decide whether they were suitable for any upcoming shoots. I was even invited to a Model Agency event, where I got to mix with beautiful models and flamboyant agents alike. My opinion was always valued and I really felt part of a team when it came to each project given to me.


I was lucky enough to be able to attend and assist at a fashion photo shoot for the December issue with the legendary photographer Carter Smith and Allure’s Creative Director Paul Cavaco. It was a long day and I was constantly busy from my arrival, arranging shoes and accessories in preparation and dressing models. It was genuinely like being in heaven, surrounded by beautiful Louboutins, Givenchy dresses and divine diamond jewellery. Half way through Paul pointed me out and said; “two minutes, get in a pair of shoes, stick a pair of earrings in, and get your hair up.” Panic stricken, I did as I was told and took the role as an extra in the background of the shoot!


However, the industry isn’t always all the glitz and glamour that it is made out to be. I discovered this one day as I ran an errand for the fashion closet to Chanel. Little did I know I would be in forty degree humid heat, in my heels, tottering seven avenues across the city to collect four huge clothes bags of beautiful clothing. However, beautiful is the last thing I looked as I arrived back with blistered feet and not a stich of make-up left on my face! What did console me slightly was the fact that the owner of the Conde Nast building had kindly set up a free Ben and Jerry’s cart in the lobby for all staff!


For all those that have seen The Devil Wears Prada, I came face to face with the woman herself, Anna Wintour, as we shared an elevator one morning. The silence she caused and the presence she held were both terrifying and admirable. In less fear I was invited to an intern brunch with the editor in chief of Allure, Linda Wells. She told us all about her early days in the industry, how she got her lucky break when she was asked to start a beauty magazine alone, and the trials and tribulations of making the magazine the success it is today. She was very approachable and gave time to answer questions and gain advice.


During my third week I had settled in to the non-stop busy New York lifestyle and was integrating well with the Allure team, when I met a fashion designer, Gaby Basora. Having spoken of my interest in having a future career in the fashion industry, she interviewed me and took me on to work for her 1 day a week for her brand Tucker. Her clothing is popular with celebrities such as Nicole Riche and Jenifer Aniston.  I found myself given the opportunity to see another side to the industry. Her feminine designs are primarily made from silks, all of the patterns of which are designed by Gaby herself in her studio. I got to observe and assist everything from design and pattern making, to production at the factory in the garment district and the processing of orders to stores such as Barneys and Net-A-Porter.


I left New York having learnt a lot and was fortunate enough to get to spend some time chatting to Gaby at her home where she opened up a trunk of her clothing and allowed me to take a couple of pieces. The lovely staff at Allure threw me a leaving party with cupcakes and cookies, a huge bag of beauty goodies, and a first class recommendation letter. I met some wonderful people who treated me as part of the team and never as a ‘coffee girl’. We had hectic days and fun days in the office, and I have kept in touch with everyone, hoping that one day I will get the opportunity to work with them again.

Carla El Gawly


3 Comments on this post.
  • Jennie Prior
    28 November 2011 at 00:15
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    Great article, and what an amazing opportunity! Did you land it with a speculative email or did you apply for it? X

  • Miss Scarlett
    28 November 2011 at 17:13
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    This literally sounds amazing! Props to you for getting this sorted. As Jennie asks – how did you get it? I’d love to do something like this but don’t have a clue about fashion, but love journalism and magazines.

  • Carla
    2 December 2011 at 17:17
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    Thanks guys,

    I did apply via email. I had previous applied via post to many magazines and you have to be prepared to be ignored and/or rejected! My advice is to read a bit more about the different ares within Fashion Journalism – its very vast. Focus on what interests you most and what you think will be best at and then call/email and apply and chase up them till they answer you! Good luck! x

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