Here's the latest 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.
Fashion Director is on vacation, and we have a big celebrity cover shoot that has sprung up in LA at the last minute. I’m to pull all the looks in 24 hours and get on a plane to style it myself. There will be someone to help dress on the day, but I’m essentially on my own for this one and it’s a very daunting task. After a sleepless night fretting over which colors sell best for a cover (FYI not green or brown), I arrive at the office the next day to be told I’m going to fly that night and shoot a smaller celebrity (C-list older film actress [OFA]) first thing in the morning. Frantically rope interns in to chase looks for cover and dash off on store appointments for OFA, with barely enough time to rush home and pack a bag for my red eye that night.
On set the next morning I meet the thankfully kind photographer and crew, who have worked with OFA before and are not expecting things to go smoothly. Fair assumption, as she strolls in to inspect my beautifully presented rail of Lanvin dresses – as many as I could find at such short notice. She dismisses me with a flick of her hand before loudly announcing how hideous the dresses are, what on earth are designers thinking these days and who in God’s name would have pulled such a revolting selection of clothes for her? I start to panic visibly as she’s in hair and makeup and has yet to look me in the eye.
Think things couldn’t possibly get worse until her friend arrives with a bag of beachwear. Friend is a swimwear designer who wants to be featured in our magazine, and OFA has decided she will only wear a bikini. Next thing we’re outside, in the baking LA heat and she’s barefoot in a swimsuit. For the December issue. We do one shot like this to appease her before I manhandle her into a silk Lanvin gown which she promptly tucks into her cargo pants and stomps on set. We get one angry shot of her (glaring right at me behind photographer) and release her early before she breathes fire all over the studio.
I’m with the photographer looking at a provisional edit when we hear what can only be described as a loud roar.
Run through to the styling room and are confronted with a sight that was both horrifying and joyous at the same time. OFA grabbed her purse to leave and found it full of dog urine. Photographer’s puppy has done us all a favor and left her a present to take home. Hairdresser and I wait until she’s stormed out to commence our jumping for joy and showering the dog with treats.
The next day looms with A-list television actress with a temper (AWT). She swans in surrounded by a team of hair and makeup who are quite the divas themselves. Without makeup on I genuinely would not have recognized her save for the entourage. To my horror I see her tiny feet and hear that she’s a size 4 and not a 6 as we were originally told. I speed off to a nearby PR company to pick up some sky high heels in her size. Return to find the local fashion assistant standing outside the bar pouring in sweat and blinded by the sun. Diva photographer has asked him to wait outside for the jewelry, even though we’ve told him it’s not arriving until 10:30 when the safe opens. It’s now 10am, and the assistant has been standing outside in the sun for a full hour to greet security guards that haven’t even left their office yet.
It’s time to change AWT into her next look. We’re squeezed into a tiny bathroom getting her dressed, and I accidentally nip her skin as I’m zipping her up. She squeals then shouts “The arm holes in this dress are so effing tiny! Who in the world has smaller arms than ME??” Before I get the chance to name a whole list of people who have skinnier arms she barges out onto set. Spies a box of Chanel which has arrived, and instructs me to open it. She starts shouting about how tight the dress is, how hot she is, how slowly I’m opening the package and anything else she could possibly complain about. The yelling startles me as I’m hacking into the box and I jump and accidentally slit my wrists. Literally there is blood everywhere, she’s still yelling and I am on the verge of passing out. Production take me outside for some fresh air and a bandage, which didn’t help much in the long run as I still have the scar…
I go to the bathroom to wipe the blood off my shirt and something catches my eye in the mirror. Twinkling in the toilet is a $100,000 + couture gown that I had transported specially in its own tissue lined bag inside a suitcase. She has tried it on, grown frustrated, and thrown it over the toilet. Pulling it out of the bowl my heart sinks as I see beads and sequins floating in the water below. Hand it to the local assistant to take outside to dry in the sun, but we’re interrupted by AWT. She wants us to take photos on her Blackberry of her posing in one of the largest ballgowns. Not once, not twice, but 10 different angles. Thankfully we’re out of time at the location and I don’t get the chance to take the Blackberry and hammer it through her skull.
When the issue finally came out months later with our two diva actresses smiling gleefully, readers would never have known the hell I went through.