Guest Blogger 3: Asma’ Nasaruddin on Confessions of a Fashion Writer

November 28, 2009

I just wanted to say how nice it was for Proudduck to ask me to share with you guys what it is I do. So I hope this’ll be an interesting read and not bore you guys out to death!(fingers crossed)

CONFESSIONS OF A FASHION WRITER

I’ve been a fashion writer at Her World Magazine for just over a year and it’s far from the typical 9-5 job. I love my job, but boy-oh-boy each week is usually packed full. So I thought the easiest way to introduce what it is I do is by sharing my schedule a week ago.

Monday:

* Get garments for Cover shoot January 2010 and fashion feature!

9.30am Meeting with Kimberly from Chanel to pick up garments for Cover Shoot

10am Pavilion- Pick up/loan garments for shoot (Chloe, Aigner, Hermes, Prada, Tod’s, Diane Von Furstenberg, etc.)

2pm Lunch meeting at Starhill with Jasmine from Louis Vuitton to discuss Looks available for cover shoot

3pm KLCC continue with loans (picking up garments)

6.30pm Pit stop at Maizen to pick up more looks and thank Nilam for letting me loan garments on such short notice!

7pm Gardens and Bangsar to continue with loans till the boutiques kick me out!

Tuesday:

9am Cover Shoot at The Marriot (Lucky for me I have to be there by 8.30am to lay out all possible outfits and make sure the room is good to go before the rest of the team arrives)

5pm Pavilion to return garments till the shops close again (as usual)

Wednesday:

10am Spa review at Angsana Spa Crowne Plaza (I would highly recommend!)

12pm Fashion Feature Shoot with four ladies

7pm BCBG Max Azria Fashion Show at Pavilion boutique

9.30pm Giuseppe Zanotti at Pulse event to meet the shoe genius himself

Thursday:

10.30am Editorial Meeting with team and our Managing Editor (yikes!she gives everyone the hibby jibbies) to discuss next month’s issue.

2.30pm KLCC for the Farah Khan Trunk Show

4pm Pavilion for Bvlgari’s Press Presentation for their latest collection

8pm Chanel Cruise 2010 Fashion Show at Le Meridien

Friday:

8.30am Office. In front of desk checking a gazillion emails

The rest of the day: Try to write my pages, spend time with colleagues over lunch, get approval from Editor on pictures from the shoot and organise garments to be returned.

7pm Flight to Singapore to explore ION Orchard (it’s such a big deal for them! But it was amazing)

Saturday:

Day spent: Visit Ion Orchard to attend all the fashion shows (Calvin Klien, Marc Jacob, Herve Leger, etc), new boutique openings, attend the RISIS event and meet Her World Singapore team.

Sunday:

4.30pm Flight back to KL from Singapore

6pm Happy to be home and spend time with little niece before she heads to bed

Getting paid to attend fashion shows, travel, interview celebrities, chat with designers and write about the latest trends is how most people perceive us fashion writers. They would imagine it being like in the movies and series-Devil Wears Prada where it’s all glamorous, Mode Magazine in Ugly Betty and the “reality” show Running in Heels (man, those interns annoy me!). Seriously, half of that is so untrue.

I mean we don’t have a huge wardrobe closet in the office where u can borrow clothes and accessories like how Amanda does (steals) in Ugly Betty,haha. And hello peoples! Any fashion writer with a normal wage can’t afford to be wearing an Herve Leger dress with Chanel and Jimmy Choo’s. But, one thing does equal up in reality and that’s the work attire like you’d see in the movies.

I remember the week before I started working, I had gone out to buy formal pants and shirts, like most of us would expect to wear to the office right? Wrong!! Not in this industry. First day I came to work I wore black pants with a nice shirt, and I felt as though I should be working with the accounts team one floor up, haha. (no offense to accountants reading this) Basically working in a magazine lets you wear whatever you please and be creative. Trust me there are some very ‘out there’ (leopard prints with shocking pink leggings) looks strutting the office on some days. So I do love the fact that I can just wear my skinnies, blouse and heels to work.

Life as a fashion writer is very colourful, yet extremely tiring since you’re responsible for so many things. In fashion magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Glam and Female, you will have the Fashion Editor, Fashion Writer and Fashion Assistant. But in my case, I am all of the above since Her World is more of a lifestyle magazine. How I convinced my editor to trust me with everything, I seriously have no clue, hahaa!

So this is what has kept me busy over the past year:

  • Photo Shoots: This includes Cover Shoots, Fashion Spreads, Fashion Feature Shoots and product shoots

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At these shoots, I’m the stylist, the one that has to get garments hung, decide who wears what, make sure all garments are steamed to perfection, pin the backs if it’s too loose, tape the soles of the shoe so no scratches are found, direct models to improve their poses, choose which pictures are sufficient enough to show the editor, coordinate hair and makeup and it goes on and on really.

  • Fashion Events: It can range from fashion shows, to new product launches to store openings. Sometimes there’s just too many, so you have to prioritise.

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When fashion writers attend fashion shows, we’re actually scouting for models we can use in our photo shoots, which not to use, which clothes are nice to feature in the next issue, which to steer away from (shiny studded leggings are a definite no-no for me!)

  • Loans a.k.a picking up garments: Basically Pavilion has become my second home since i’m there picking up garments every other day. They should really have a private room with beds and handsome masseuse on stand-by so fashion writers can chill after a long day of loans. Just a thought!

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I usually carry more than double of this. This is where i get my workout,hehe.

At first, it was fun because it was like going shopping. You step into the boutique and just point out to the salesperson which you want to loan. But after a year doing that every other day, the fun part kinda disappears. And I seriously look like a girl that just went on a crazy shopping spree and exceeded her credit card limit. I even get stares from strangers, thinking, OMG, how can she afford all of this? So the next time you see a person who you think did a wee bit too much shopping, they’re probably working like me.

A tip: Ask if they need help, we’d really love that!

The scary thing about loaning garments is that you have to return them in the perfect condition it left the store. And when it’s a dress that costs over RM5000 or a pair of earrings that you’d only be able to afford if you sold all your organs, you have to be extra careful and guard them with your life! But sometimes darn models are just too careless, which meant I ended up having to explain to my editor why the pair of Moschino pants which costs RM2,600 (ridiculous i know!) had a scratch on the left side. Thank God for company insurance. Phewww!

And never ever try to do loans in heels! You’re basically loaning garments from more than 15 brands in a day, so comfortable flats are a must. And even in those, be prepared to accumulate corns and blisters.

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I don’t exactly have the prettiest feet. Okay fine, i have ugly feet!

  • Writing articles: This is where my job title as Fashion Writer makes sense. I write my regular columns such as trends, fashion news, accessories and then I have fashion features, which could be an article reviewing Fendi’s latest Selleria collection. And lastly, advertorials, which is basically writing an advertisement without making it sound too hard-sell. I remember the first one I wrote. My editor made me rewrite it 3 times, I sucked big time! But I’ve learnt and it feels great when a client even requests for you. *gives myself a pat on the back. Hahaa!

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If I haven’t yet scared any of you into contemplating to be a fashion writer, then I’m not doing too bad. But in all honesty, as tiring and crazy as it is, there are moments where I enjoy the experiences and things that come along with it:

So excited when I got to work with Jaslene winner of America’s Next Top Model cycle 8, whom I so loved and wanted to win.

And, was so extremely psyched when I got to meet Giuseppe Zanotti himself and interview him at an event he hosted. I really reallyyyy love his shoes. And, fyi, he won best shoe designer of the year! (not surprised)

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I get to travel abroad for either spa reviews, fashion shows, product launches or boutique openings.

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Got to travel to Bangkok for a spa review and show.

A funny incident happened one day. I opened my outlook to find an email from Eileen, Marketing Manager for Diane Von Furstenberg. I was invited to attend the Spring/Summer 2010 Fashion Show during New York Fashion Week at Bryant Park. OMG, OMG! I was sooo excited I wanted to scream cause I love her so much! Then I tried to click for an attachment to find my flight itinerary and arrangements in the email. Nada! When I scrolled down to keep reading, I realised we had to go there ourselves and it wasn’t like the usual invites where everything was taken care of. Words can’t describe how bumped i was. If only I had extra cash to buy a flight ticket there I sooo would. But i didn’t, so i waved goodbye to any chance i had of meeting celebrities sitting front row at the DVF show.

Most events never send you home empty handed as they want you to write good things about them. And I never have to buy make up anymore because they send so much to our magazine for us to feature and try. And you can even request! And being besties with the beauty writer doesn’t hurt. Hahaa, we really are close though, for real! I swear i’m not using her.

And when you become good friends with store managers, they let you in on family sales.

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Bought shoes at a fraction of its price!­­­­­­ (left the store broke as ever though)

So I hope i’ve painted a pretty picture of the reality and what it’s like to be a fashion writer. I love fashion and i prefer to write things that’ll be useful to my readers like how pear-shaped women should dress or how to create the illusion of curves for skinny women. And before I end this extremely longggg post, (for those that survived reading the whole thing, well done and thank you!haha) i just have to say, don’t read too much into what magazines say when it comes to the latest trends and must-buys! You don’t have get on board the trend boat with each one, it’s unrealistic. If the boyfriend blazer suits you, by all means go for it, but if you find harem pants look ridiculous, put it back on the rack. Fashion is meant to be fun and make ­­­­­you feel good, not stress you out ladies!

Thanks again PD! I hope it was a fun read for you guys. And if any are interested in working in this line, there are always job openings here at my office, hehe.