How Barneys Fashion Director Marina Larroudé Climbed the Industry Ranks From a Work-Study Gig at Brazilian 'Vogue'

A serendipitous living situation and a bouquet of flowers might have helped, too.
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Marina Larroudé at London Fashion Week spring 2017. Photo: Imaxtree

Marina Larroudé at London Fashion Week spring 2017. Photo: Imaxtree

In our long-running series, "How I'm Making It," we talk to people making a living in the fashion industry about how they broke in and found success.

Scoring a dream job is often a combination of hard work, good timing and, well, showing up. Marina Larroudé is proof of that. Her career trajectory spans from Brazil, where she's from, to New York, where she climbed the industry ranks across Style.com, Teen Vogue and currently, Barneys New York as the retailer's Fashion Director. Though she always had an interest in fashion since she was a kid — her earliest memories involve shopping trips to buy Melissa sandals with her grandmother — Larroudé applied her love for magazines and shopping towards a work-study gig at Brazilian Vogue.

"When I was starting my college experience, I thought that if I was interested in fashion, I had to be a fashion designer and I knew I didn't want to do that," says Larroudé. "Magazines were much easier to get into, so I thought, I can be an editor." By day, Larroudé would intern and assist the magazine's stylists on photo shoots, and by night, she would be attending classes for college. Eventually, the editor-in-chief hired her as a market editor for the publication's shopping pages.

Once Larroudé graduated, she decided to spend a year abroad in Paris to study French. "After, I could decide if I wanted to be in Paris or see how my life will take shape," she says. Another option was to move to New York. Coincidentally, she also met her then-future husband in Brazil, who had plans to move to the Big Apple for work that summer. They dated (long distance, while she was in Paris) and during a trip to visit him, he proposed.

"I came to New York and I was doing I was doing extracurricular courses at Parsons and FIT — visual merchandising, marketing — to get a sense of the industry," says Larroudé. "I did that and I started sending my resumé to everyone." She landed her first fashion job in the U.S. at Alice Temperley and the rest is history.

While planning the upcoming fall promotional mailer for Barneys, we managed to catch Larroudé on the phone to learn more about her career, making the switch from editorial to retail, and her advice for those hoping to do the same thing.

What was your first job in New York City?

I interned for Alice Temperley for a year. Back then, everything was managed by four girls — retail, wholesale, PR, everything. I learned how an entire showroom worked. Then I realized I really wanted to go back to magazines because I didn't want to work with just one brand. So I started sending my resumé to every single person out there. I pretty much opened a magazine to its masthead and sent it to everyone, asking for an internship or an entry-level position. I don't think I got many answers, maybe four people replied with 'Hi, if I know of anything, I'll let you know.'

How did you start working at Style.com?

On my way out of my apartment building, I saw a Christian Dior invite in the lobby. I thought someone who lives here must work in fashion. I saw the name on the invite was Candy Pratts Price, and so I Googled her. She was, at the time, the creative director for Style.com. She was also the accessories director for Vogue for many years. But I didn't think of how senior she was. I just thought, 'I have this person who lives in my building. I might as well send my resumé to her.' So I left a bouquet of flowers and my resumé for her to my doorman, hoping she'd call me for an interview or to meet me.

My husband met her in the elevator a couple of weeks later. He said to her, 'I believe my wife sent you flowers.' And, she's so funny, she was like, 'I don't believe in everything that I read, so I'm checking my references' — because I put in my resumé that I used to work at Brazilian Vogue. Eventually, her assistant called me for an interview. I met with her, we got along. She didn't have anything open at the time, but she sent my resumé around. A couple of weeks later, I get a phone call from Style.com's Editor-in-Chief. I met with him and he offered me a freelance assistant styling job for the men's market for one story. My entry to Style.com was very similar to Brazilian Vogue — it came as an opportunity for one story only, so I did it and I never left. I was at Style.com for nine years in total: two years for men's, then seven years for women's.

How did you move to Teen Vogue and how was your experience different there?

I never experienced magazines in the U.S. — I did two years at Brazilian Vogue, but then I was nine years in digital — and I wanted to manage a bigger team. At Style.com, I was a market director managing one person. But I wanted more management experience and to work with different departments. At Style, we were so short and lean. For Teen Vogue, it was perfect timing. Amy Astley called me in for an interview after her fashion director resigned, so I did it. [Both publications] were part of Condé Nast, so I moved to Teen Vogue and I was there for two and a half years. I had a big team reporting to me and I had to manage all of the fashion market teams. I learned how to manage an entire magazine from the cover until the last page — the photographers, the photo shoots and all of that, and then also the digital component, like all of the videos and photos shoots for the web. It was very, very dynamic and it was a great learning experience.

What does your Fashion Director role at Barneys entail?

I do think my role at Barneys combines Style.com and Teen Vogue. I'm working with the best fashion retailer out there on cutting-edge fashion. One part of my job is to oversee the entire mailer that reproduces three or four times a year. It's about creating those images and producing those photo shoots, which comes from my Teen Vogue years.

Another part of my job is to oversee all of the Barneys private labels between ready-to-wear and accessories. One moment I'm developing cashmeres, then the next moment I'm deciding on what look is going to be in the mailer, then the next is bringing a new designer on board. I work very closely with the buyers on shoes, bags and fine jewelry, and finding the best collections and best product for Barneys. It is a very dynamic experience and very fashion-focused, which I love.

How are your day-to-day duties and goals different from working in media?

Before, if I loved a dress, we'd put it in the magazine. So then I'd talk to the stylist, maybe a celebrity might want to wear it, and it got the exposure — it got photographed and that's where it ends. What I like about my job here is, if I love a dress, I can put it in the mailer, I can get it exclusively sold at Barneys, and in the end, I get to see the dollar signs; I get to see the dress being sold. So it is a full experience for me. I like to see that all coming together. Through my years as an editor, I would go and see a collection, and I would tell a designer, 'How about you do this bag as a mini bag?' They're like, 'Great.' Now I can do that and have it sold at Barneys, and I can see the results. That's a very fulfilling experience for me.

Was there a learning curve switching from editorial to retail?

You know what? No. I would love to say yes, but I don't think it was. It was very natural to me. It was a role that I always wanted to have. It felt very easy. Instead of picking a piece, getting it in, talking to the stylist and getting it shot — maybe having a creative director there edit it out — there are so many moving parts of a magazine that I think now, it's more straightforward in a way. I do think my job is very similar in some capacity, but then on the other hand, we'll see if it's going sell at the end of the day.

Was your first Fashion Month for Barneys any different from previous seasons?

Yes, I did attend shows for new brands and also the ones that we currently are carrying at Barneys. Maybe I wasn't everywhere where I used to be. There's more focus on brands for me to go and see now. There are also a lot of business meetings within the fashion week and that, for me, is so interesting. To be able to sit down and understand what's really selling, what's really working, what everyone is actually putting their money into it. My fashion week was busier in a way. Instead of walking in, taking pictures and walking out, now you sit down and you really dig into the collections.

What advice do you have for those interested in following a similar career path as yours?

Honestly, always be open. Maybe the job you really want is not going to come to you in a very clear version. It is something that will come naturally as it came for me. Just be open. Do the job and do your best. And keep on doing it every day and don't give it up. Think about it in the long-term. Be as consistent as you can with your career. 

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