The first phone call I made after graduating from high school was to a renowned Australian stylist asking whether I could become one of her interns.
A week later I found myself working backstage at the Chanel fashion show that had travelled to Brisbane. I was giddy with excitement and overjoyed with what could only be classified as a Chanel high. The day was going faultlessly until it came time for the dress rehearsal. I had to dress a model in a skin-tight white leather jacket and skirt. I was so awkward and catastrophically bad at doing so that the model walked the catwalk with no shoes on, twice. Needless to say I learnt my lesson and vouched never to stuff up quite this badly again.
Thankfully as I continued interning I improved dramatically. When I was a fresh faced 18 year old on my gap year in London I was determined to get my foot in the door of the London fashion world through a London Fashion Week internship.
I had my heart set on working for a particular brand that I had grown up idolising. I began hassling them with emails, hoping for the best. Eventually persistence paid off and I was offered one of the five internship positions.
On my first day I rocked up to the ridiculously hip East London studio, in what I thought was an equally hip outfit. When I saw the intimidatingly cool staff however I immediately questioned my sartorial choice.
The days were long, tedious and rather tiring and I quickly learnt that everything I had heard about being a fashion intern was frighteningly true. The lows are lower than low, but the highs are pretty darn great.
Some days would be spent running around East London buying an uncountable number of bottled water and packets of kale chips. Steam 100 garments over and over again after each different team member had touched and moved the clothes. Be told to leave the studio at 7pm and return at 9pm to start work again, or be in charge of making 200 goodie bags half an hour before show time.
In all honesty though I had it easy compared to one intern who used to be sent gallivanting around town having to track down bizarre trimmings and seemingly non-existent white boxes, only to return after a number of hours and be told they were not correct.
Other days however were quite the contrary. I had the chance to meet and photograph a myriad of A list models including Cara Delevingne, who at the time was on the cusp of becoming the Cara Delevingne (for the record she is in fact as fun as she seems). Spend my days getting to know some of the most talented and influential people in the business. Eat endless amounts of Haribo and kale chips - I bizarrely opted for the Haribo. But more importantly I learnt invaluable lessons, which simply could not have been learnt any other way.
When it finally came time for the show I recall being so nervous that I could not sleep the night before and on the day the only piece of food I could stomach was a piece of brownie. Thankfully it went off without a hitch and was incredibly well received by both the killer front row and the press.
The next day I showed up to the office still running on nothing but adrenalin. As a thank you I was told to take a few goodies from a rack of clothes and a table of accessories. It was filled with pieces I had been lusting over for months and as a sleep deprived, gap student I almost cried tears of happiness.
Whilst there obviously was a number of hours and days spent completing mind-numbing tasks I think back on this month fondly and as one heck of a learning experience that I would not have changed for the world.
At the time I knew how great it would look on my CV and how beneficial it was to learn from the best, but it is only now that I have realised how much it actually changed the course of my life. The reason I say this is because I distinctly recall an epiphany I had one night when it was verging on 12am and I was carrying boxes up three flights of stairs. I thought to myself, "If I can do this and still love this industry, than this is the industry for me." If I had not had this thought would I have ever had the courage to move back to London to pursue a career in fashion? I really very much doubt it.
To any young hopefuls about to commence a London Fashion Week internship I wish you the best of luck, it may be hard work but it is worth it in the end.
Image supplied by author.