This summer here at Wasserman, we want to help give some insight into particular career fields that you may not have previously considered. Here, Sydney Mai, MCC ’17, offers forth some thoughts about fashion icons and shows how they can inspire.
What do you think of when hearing the word “fashion”? Is it the latest clothes, catwalks, runway models, after-parties, magazine covers, or the Paris Fashion Week? Truth is, the fashion world is not all just centered around the glitz and glam that appears on the surface. It’s about the road to making it there and the people who once traveled that road – fashion figures with inspiring stories that have turned into valuable career lessons for us.
- Coco Chanel – “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous”
Whether it is Chanel no.5, the little black dress, or her witty words of wisdom, Mademoiselle Chanel sure knew how to do things in style. Coco Chanel’s legacy travels far beyond her century-old fashion empire: she is a legend, a trailblazer, a vision of elegance and sophistication, and most importantly, an inspiration to millions of women all around the world. Coming from humble beginnings, Coco Chanel spent most of her teenage years inside the constricting walls of a convent where she learned needlework from the nuns. Yet, talents like to break free – her nunnery daily wear was soon transformed into ageless jet-set designs, ones that helped establish her iconic personal brand.
Lesson to learn: Whatever you do in life, do it with style! Build your own personal brand with an unforgettable trademark. Don’t be afraid to break boundaries and explore your potentials!
2. Tyra Banks: “A smart model is a good one”
Think modeling is all about posing for the camera? Miss Banks will prove you wrong. Tyra Banks revolutionized people’s common trivialization of a career in the modeling industry with her versatility and creativity: she takes on the role of a TV personality, actress, producer, writer, businesswoman, and philanthropist. Despite the phenomenal success of America’s Next Top Model, hardly does one know that the show concept was first poked fun at when being introduced to CW, for the producers didn’t take models seriously. Top Model now appears in over 35 countries and its creator, Miss Banks, continues to show the world her aptitude with a certificate from Harvard’s Management Extension Program, earned in 2011.
Lesson to learn: Versatility is what every employer looks for. An ability to take on and fit into any role proves that you’re the next top candidate. Why stick to one role or conform to stereotypes? The world is your oyster!
3.Ralph Lauren: “I don’t design clothes. I design dreams.”
Ralph Lauren’s rags-to-riches story has long motivated generations and generations of aspiring young fashion designers who dream of making it in the business. Born and raised in the Bronx to a Jewish immigrant family in the 50s, Lauren knew what it was like to have little and to dream big. As a teenager, he spent hours in movie theaters immersing himself in the magical world of films, dreaming of a better life. Childhood fantasies were soon turned into actions as the creative world moved to New York City in 1960s, determined to make it big.
Lesson to learn: “The creative adult is the child who has survived” (Le Guin). It doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s OK to dream big and even to have larger-than-life ambitions. The secret lies in transforming your ambitions into plans then into actions. It’s up to you to make things happen.
4. Anna Wintour: “Fashion’s not about looking back. It’s always about looking forward.”
With Anna Wintour, it is always “on to the next,” as Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld puts it. Fear her or worship her, Anna Wintour is indisputably the most powerful woman in the fashion industry today. Over two decades spearheading the Vogue America team, how does she keep this 300-billion-dollar enterprise up and running? People who’ve had the privilege of being on Anna’s team are wowed by her decisiveness. Trusting her gut is indeed the key to her success.
Lesson to learn: Know your goals. Be decisive and listen to your heart.
These are the people who have day by day, bit by bit, inspired me to realize my dream of working in fashion marketing & advertising. Their career lessons, however, are applicable regardless of any industry or discipline you’ve chosen to go into. Good luck with your endeavors wherever they may take you!