International Vogue Editor Suzy Menkes with Parsons Paris BFA Fashion Design senior Lindsay Walsh.
Every Paris Fashion Week our fashion students are presented with unique opportunities to participate and experience Fashion Week, attending shows or working back stage, through our ongoing relationships with InDigital Media and STYLE.COM, as well as other opportunities that literally pop up for students of Parsons Paris. Students are presented with truly once in a lifetime opportunities. Such was the case for BFA Fashion Design senior Lindsay Walsh who the day before Paris Fashion Week this past January, was presented with the chance to work with Vogue International Editor, Suzy Menkes. For one week Parsons Paris gave Lindsay permission to take a break from her final senior collection for some first hand experience like she never imagined, all while viewing the incredibly stunning spring/summer 2015 haute couture collections. We were dying to learn more about this experience so we sat down with Lindsay Walsh over a coffee to learn more.
What was it like meeting Suzy Menkes for the first time?
I first met Suzy after the Versace show and she introduced herself and we shook hands. She was amazing and nothing other than kind and gracious. It was actually shocking given someone with so much status. Suzy always said thank you and was kind the entire time. Her assistant was great too.
What was it like working with an internationally renowned fashion journalist?
Suzy is really refreshing. Her work is all about intelligent writing and what pieces mean. It’s a nice way to look at the field. It’s not all about surface; it’s really important to remember that’s what fashion is about.
What was the process like for you?
Suzy and her assistant were often seated in the first or second row. I would usually stand in the photographer’s pit. I have a background in photography and had my camera. It helped that I was a female, where the pit was mostly men. Batting eyelashes helped.
“Instant” shows we would wait to see online; otherwise we would get the photographs immediately after the show’s end from the photographer. The latter is faster/easier. I would go through pictures, and Suzy would write the article within the hour. On a good day, there was no show immediately afterwards, but otherwise she would write the article in the car on the way to the next show. It was necessary to write down details while they were fresh. Her assistant was really good at keeping us on time.
This would happen about 6x a day. It’s crazy and wonderful all at the same time.
If we were waiting for images, I was a ball of stress. One time we were waiting for photos and had to get the article live, so we ended up using one of my photos which was published on Vogue [Elie Top Jewelry, pretty far down the page]!
In addition to several shows a day there were after parties and store openings. I went to a couple, but in general I was exhausted at the end of the day. I learned that being an international editor is a job for extroverts, but for Suzy going to Fashion Week is like visiting old friends.
What happened during the week that you didn’t expect?
My previous Paris Fashion Week experience with InDigital Media helped prepare me for this opportunity. Really, half the job [for Suzy] was tech support. I’d go home at night and would read manuals or google every piece of technology that we had in the car with us so I could learn about it. My computer was old and slow, which was a challenge. I think in the future I’d definitely have an emergency back-up hard-drive.
Much of what I did was prep work and thinking ahead and in crisis mode to try to anticipate every potential problem. I tried to imagine who I would want as my perfect assistant, so I tried to be efficient in what I did.
What surprised you during your week assisting?
I was surprised to learn that often times the show run two times, such as Dior.
What did you learn that you can carry into your own work?
It was nice to be exposed to a job where I could accomplish something. [ed. note: Senior collections can be a lot of stress and pressure, very much a process].
I was surprised to learn that images were selected more for the picture quality than for the actual clothes. Now I think in my own work if something will photograph well, because that’s how it will get shared.
Some of the invitations were really amazing, and they even had my name on them. We definitely have a lot of ideas now for creative invitations for our Senior Show in May 2015.
Follow @ParsonsParis and the hashtag #parsonsparis_PFW to get a sense of all the incredible experiences and access our students have during Paris Fashion Week. Learn more about our BFA Fashion Design on our official website.