If you’ve ever considered entering the fashion industry, one question has undoubtedly crossed your mind: how accurate is The Devil Wears Prada? Great question! Let me answer it. You know that scene where Andy is carrying four hot lattes and several shopping bags and then Miranda calls her, and Andy uses all her strength not to cover herself and everything she’s carrying in searing hot coffee and collapse to the ground in a defeated heap, but still spills the coffee anyways? Sorry, it’s all true.
Last winter I spent six months as an unpaid fashion closet intern at Harper's Bazaar. In that time, I've scurried through the subways of Manhattan juggling 30-pound garment bags in four-inch heels. I've fetched an editor's lunch once or twice (she liked salmon sushi, but don't forget the extra ginger and low-sodium soy sauce). As a fashion intern, did I go through a box of Band-Aids a week to cover blisters from my pumps? Yes. Did I get the heel of the same pumps stuck in a subway grate while carrying an incredibly delicate Saint Laurent diamond tiara in my hands? Yes (and somehow returned the tiara uncrushed).
But, don’t misunderstand me. Even though my internship was equally split between sweating on the subway and individually downloading full shows from every designer into Bazaar’s server, I got a more intensive, crash-course look into the fashion industry than I ever could have expected. There were parts that were frustrating, like the fact that there was only one computer for a six-person team, and barely enough chairs for us to sit on. But challenges like this—getting lost finding a PR office, tediously printing look-books—are all part of the job. Strangely enough, they are also the parts of the job that I miss the most.
There’s nothing like holding the same McQueen gown in your hands that you squealed over while watching the show on your computer the week before, or packing up a Dior dress for Jennifer Lawrence that she ends up wearing on the cover. The tedious nitty gritty of the job went hand in hand with the glamour of it, which was what made the fashion closet so oddly charming. At the end of the day, I don’t see a better way to be thrown into the fashion industry than graduating from your own “Devil Wears Prada” boot camp. I don’t see a Fendi bag getting into my eager hands any other way, any time soon, so if this is my starting point, I’ll take it.