Lead articles

Foot in the Door: The Times Fashion Department

The unbelievable reality of how I got my internship is pretty harsh. I didn’t apply for a five-week internship in the Fashion department at The Times newspaper; it was handed to me like a present on Christmas Day. What started out as an innocent conversation with a well-dressed woman at Vogue Festival became a bullet-firing job interview, carefully hidden by the editor within my gushing enthusiasm. The bomb dropped eventually when she said “That’s interesting Rosie because I’m the Deputy Fashion Editor at The Times and we like to give students internships during the holidays. Would you like one?” Evidently, networking is both a blessing and a curse but when perfected, it’s a golden ticket into the world of fashion.

Although horror stories of mistreatment are common among interns, I have nothing but praise and respect for my colleagues. In the early days, I was told to consider myself one of the team and that I’d work just as much as they did, reminding me how “we don’t have time to hold your hand through anything”. I reassured here that jumping in the deep end was my style and working at The Times during the Olympics was the perfect opportunity to do so. We had a healthy office dynamic, complete with jokes and opinions flying between our desks. Meeting deadlines for articles and booking PR appointments were rewarded with emails of encouragement and a pair of Marmalade Cashmere arm warmers. The heat turned up however when we battled it out over a chiffon shirt from Aubin and Wills. Eventually it was settled over who looked best in it, like true professionals. Although I barely saw my desk from the colossal amount of picture briefs and article drafts, we worked together, committed to the same cause of quality journalism and a love for style.

The average day at The Times was never average. After getting a bedroom sized lift up to the 5th floor of the Trinity Tower, I’d collect the department’s post, and head to my desk. Apart from interrogating the editors about the events they attended the night before, I’d start with the post. Unwrapping post escalated to distributing invitations to fashion shows, gallery previews and free samples from PR companies, whilst answering a landslide of emails from designers and press assistants. Another ritual was an email to the entire department, summarising the style articles published in other key newspapers, tracking what and who was writing about the industry on a daily basis. It paid off when I spotted that a newspaper had essentially copied one of our articles on Olympic athlete nail art, published the day before; the keen eye is rewarded in journalism and so was I.

Variety was a key element within my work. I was fortunate to maintain the perfect balance between repeating tasks to the point of perfection and being assigned new, slightly more daunting ones which served as valuable lessons for the future. Jobs of importance that I mastered included unpacking, steaming and returning clothing samples to the designer headquarters. My supervisor, the newspaper stylist noted how “lots of girls turn their nose up at doing returns” and praised my enthusiasm for the repetitive task. I protested my disbelief at the snobbery of others; it’s not every day you can clutch a Miu Miu suit or a Chanel dress!

In contrast, requests for online content, trend images and statistics landed on my desk, with my head on the chopping block always in the back of my mind.  Twice, I was put in charge of choosing, gathering and ordering high resolution images of products for pending articles. The art of gentle harassment and persuasion via email became my pursuit, gently pushing resistant designers to give me what I needed. Then I skipped to the art department and was told to dictate the layout and crediting of the images for the final proof copy, returning to my desk with ‘thank you’ post-it notes stuck on my computer screen.

After working for a month, I was asked to stay on for one final week. I was able to work on a photoshoot, shooting outfits at the White Cube art gallery that would serve as a preview for London Fashion Week. I shared a little moment of pride with myself, hanging up Burberry, Prada, Mary Katrantzou, Hermes and Jonathan Saunders, appreciating the fact that these designers had been eager to give me what I wanted for my superiors. Like this and so many others, I was given tasks that seem normal to an editor, but are precious labours of love for an intern. I did everything with a child-like enthusiasm and I’ll always be thankful for every day that I was a member of such a magnificent team.

Rosie Feenstra

Image Credits: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

Follow Impact Style on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Lead articlesStyle

Leave a Reply