When looking for a fashion expert, everyone on the editorial desk agreed that the obvious choice would have been a designer. But that just seemed too...well, obvious. We wanted to show some of the variety of this industry and that it’s not just about sending clothes down the catwalk – in fact there are a number of routes to go into, from marketing to PR, where you can use your enthusiasm for all things sartorial in a way that complements your other skills. So when Libby Page, fashion assistant at InStyle magazine, agreed to talk to me about working in fashion editorial, I couldn’t wait to pick her brains on all things ‘Devil Wears Prada’ and show budding fashionistas that there are options out there even if design isn’t your thing.
She’s a busy lady though and when we get chance to sit down it’s the night before she’s jetting off to New York to shoot the cover of InStyle, ‘It was only confirmed I was going yesterday but I’m so excited!’ She can’t tell me much more since the cover isn’t due to hit shelves for another few months but she does reveal it involves someone famous. My interest is well and truly piqued, and I can’t wait to start asking her questions. Settling on the sofa, she slips off her New Balance trainers (if you don’t know, these are currently a wardrobe staple of true fashion industry professionals) and happily gives me her full attention, filling me in on what it’s like working for one of the biggest fashion titles in the world and making me want to go straight out and buy a white shirt...
When did you first discover you were interested in fashion?
I was about 17. Whilst I loved clothes a while before that, it was at this age that I began to appreciate how much work can go into one piece. I became much more interested in editorial shoots and the interesting stories a single piece of clothing can create.
What lead to you becoming fashion assistant at InStyle?
I started by studying fashion promotion at university for three years and juggled that alongside internships at Vogue, Tatler and other publications. From there I saw the job at InStyle, applied and got it!
You make it sound so easy! The fashion industry is notoriously hard to get into but you’ve clearly cracked it, what are your top tips for getting your foot in the door?
Work hard; really, really hard. Stay late, always be polite, say yes to everything and do as many internships as possible at the magazines that are right for you. That’s important. You have to choose your publications carefully as they will affect the direction you take in the future.
What made you choose to go into fashion editorial as opposed to the other areas of the fashion industry?
I love the stories that an editorial can tell. It allows you to be so creative with an idea or concept. You get to work with amazing designers, makeup artists; it's a real family and team environment. In terms of other areas of fashion, I can't say I have even thought of another option.
We know you’re just starting out – where do you see your career going from here?
Being a fashion director would definitely be my dream job.
Do you get a lot of perks doing your job? (I’m already bewitched by the fact that she’s jetting off to New York!)
If I said no I would be lying, but saying yes makes it sounds a lot more glamorous than it actually is. Enjoying my job is the biggest perk!
Is it always enjoyable though? Is it anything like the Devil Wears Prada?
On occasion it has its moments but let's just say I haven't had anyone asking me for the final book in the Harry Potter series before it’s released! I'm extremely lucky that I get to work with such an amazing team who are encouraging, supportive and they have a sense of humour too! Unlike Miranda Presley!
What’s your top styling tip?
If you don't have a white shirt, make it the next thing you buy!
What, in your opinion, has been the worst trend of the last decade?
Which designers/brands would you say are ones to watch in the next year?
Definitely Cedrick Charlier; Faustine Steinmetz does incredible denim; and Atea Oceanie.
What advice do you have for people who might just be starting to look at pursuing a career in fashion?
It's going to be a long road but keep going and you might just get there!
If you’re ready to get on that long road and keen to forge a career in fashion then take a leaf out of Libby’s book by starting with a course. Whether it’s fashion editorial you’re interesting in like Libby, marketing , styling, or any of the other areas within this illustrious industry, there are a number of different options available to get you started.