Introducing a new column, Diary of an Anonymous Fashion Assistant, where our contributor, who shall henceforth be known as Blair Mercer, dishes about the daily life of a fashion assistant at a major fashion mag at a major publishing house. She’s hauled sacks of Louboutins through the Sahara, been wrestled by Colonel Gaddafi’s guards at a five star hotel in Paris and was physically scarred by an A-list celeb. She’ll tell you all about it.
We’re off to Monaco, and as usual, running late for our flight. Fashion Director sent me at the last minute to buy drinks and lunch for the crew to take on board in a bid to avoid unhealthy plane food. I should also mention that every time we travel, no matter how long we’re away for, I pack all my own clothes in a carry-on to save our baggage allowance for the shoot samples. Photographer, his assistant, Fashion Director and I are now the last people to board the plane. With lunch for four people in my left hand and an overstuffed and extremely heavy carry-on in my right hand, I shuffle down the plane behind them, avoiding the angry gazes of the other passengers. I attempt to hoist my bag with one hand into the overhead locker but my arm buckles under the weight. Horrified, I see it in slow motion land with a massive thunk onto the back of Fashion Director’s neck, nearly knocking her out.
A somewhat tense and silent flight later we arrive at our seafront hotel on a Sunday morning. We have the day off until we reconvene for dinner at 7, and my lovely ocean view bed awaits. I fall sound asleep until some time later there’s a knock on the door. I leap out of bed, peer through the keyhole and see Fashion Director and Photographer standing outside my room.
I consider my options which are a) stand very still and pretend I’m not there; or b) open the door and greet them in pajamas. I immediately freeze and hold my breath, trying to work out if they’ve heard me or not. I reluctantly open the door and attempt an air of nonchalance as if it’s the most normal thing in the world to be standing in front of my boss and a well-known photographer in my pajamas on a Sunday afternoon.
They’ve brought the model for a fitting and had expected me to unpack as soon as I arrived. I frantically hang clothes at lightening speed, the photographer sets up his camera for some test shots, and we have a professional fitting in my bedroom. And the whole while I’m in socks and pajamas. This was approximately 100 times worse than the dream everyone has about going to school in their underwear.
The next day we’re shooting swimwear around the hotel pool. At lunchtime I am sent to the local supermarket to buy sandwiches. Everyone in Monte Carlo has had the same idea, and the bakery section is crowded beyond belief. After 30 minutes and several calls from Fashion Director, I get to the front of the line and buy all the remaining baguettes. An angry mob in Monaco is much more polite than anywhere else, but it was certainly not pleasant…
I sprint back to the hotel, knowing I should go straight out to the pool but I can’t resist stopping off at my room for a quick bathroom break.
I open the bedroom door, scream my head off and drop all the baguettes on the floor. Because on my bed, standing atop all the priceless swimwear samples, are two large pigeons, cooing like they’re having the time of their lives. Utterly petrified, I dash into the bathroom and close the door behind me. I force myself to take deep breaths; I know I can’t stay in there forever. So I creak the door open slowly and inch my way out. The birds are looking quite relaxed and clearly have no plans to leave anytime soon. I see that I had idiotically left my balcony door slightly ajar and it was basically a pigeon free-for-all.
In order for them to leave I have to somehow edge past them and open the door much wider. But there is a large obstacle in the form of the hotel desk, piled high with dozens of Alexis Bittar cuffs, Kara Ross rings, and about 30 pairs of sunglasses. I drop to my knees and crawl to the balcony operating under the assumption that they can’t see me if I’m closer to the ground (because that totally makes sense). I pry the door open and do a very ungraceful commando-style roll under the desk and back across the room. They don’t move. I resort to shouting “Go pigeons! Get out my room!” like a complete lunatic.
It must have scared them though, as the smaller pigeon promptly deposits a “gift” all over the Versace bikini it was standing on. I scream and shout and flap my arms until they both start flying around the room in a mad panic trying to find the door. Now the three of us are panicking and squawking and the baguettes are still on the floor. All I can think about is how mad this would sound if anyone walked past my room, and how Fashion Director is never going to believe that this is why I’ve been so long getting lunch. Eventually they fly seaward and I am left with a bed of designer swimwear covered in bird excrement, 8 baguettes in a questionable state, and I still haven’t been to the toilet. Luckily the crew all believed me because a) we’ve been on shoots together before and b) I couldn’t make this up.