This past weekend, Teen Vogue invited Zac Posen, Erin Fetherson, Jenna Lyons, Charlotte Ronson, Rachel Roy, and Jason Wu–among others–to speak at its annual Fashion University in New York City. As a high school senior, I was one of the lucky attendants. Here’s what went down:
The weekend kicked off with a Juicy Couture shopping event at the label’s flagship store on 5th Ave. Budding fashionistas lined up around the block and were welcomed inside by male models walking around, offering tasty treats. Indie band The Downtown Fiction performed for a packed store.
The next morning, a camel-donned Anna Wintour gave the opening address, detailing the ups and downs of her career. Everyone in the audience appeared surprised by how honest she was of her mistakes. Wintour gave the impression of having genuine passion for developing new young talent in the industry. She called the fashion world the most charitable industry saying, “No one else gives back their time, money, or ideas like us. There is no competitiveness or back biting.” Her final piece of advice was “Do your time to succeed; you have to start at the bottom to make it to the top.”
Giving advice was the job of every speaker during the weekend, and each made similar points. Including: Take your time to learn about people in the industry and the history of fashion; ignore pressure to become the next “youngest great”; being successful in the fashion industry means being well rounded and having a great set of references. They also stressed that there is no one path or formula for success–you must find your own path.
Erin Fetherson gave confidence to the audience by saying, “Try a lot of different hats on to know what you want to do. Intern at as many places as you can.” Jenna Lyons shared her secret to success, which is “only do what you love, only pursue what feels like you.” Blogger Judy Aldridge told the audience to “never let something feel like a burden to you.”
At the end of the informational sessions, keynote speaker Vera Wang, made a lasting impression on everyone: “To be successful in fashion, it’s not about fashion, it’s about loving all types of design.”
To close the conference, top models spoke to the students about overcoming obstacles in life and never letting other people bring you down. Canada’s Next Top Model judge Stacey McKenzie, a last minute speaker for the event, said to “ take risks and own and love who you are; no matter what, do not lose yourself on your journey.”