My Internship at Versace
This was my first proper internship and I would like to share my experience, because when you want to work in the fashion world you usually have no idea where to start.
At least, I hadn’t.
How did I get it?
At first, I wanted to find a fashion stylist internship, but my experience was minimal. I didn’t graduate with any fashion degree and I didn’t know anybody in the industry. Bare in mind that if you desire to be in the fashion field in Italy, there is only one place to look at: fashionjobs.it, so that’s where I looked.
There are plenty of jobs ads and they are serious. I got into lots of interviews, as with Diane Von Furstenberg, Diesel and companies that are behind low-cost brands as Pull&Bear, Zara and so on. Everything Milan-based.
My Versace internship: Sales & Showroom Assistant.
After 2 interviews at the end of May I finally got a job at Versace. Yes – if anybody’s wondering – I saw Donatella, her dog and other members of the family, quite a few times. And that was so surreal but after a while, you get used to it.
My internship was for 6 months, paid, full-time and in the centre of Milan (Via Manzoni). Working in one of the most re-known Italian fashion companies… what every fashionista would dream of!
I was given the position of Sales & Showroom Assistant for Versace Collection with two other girls.
What was it about? (pre sales campaign)
When we first arrived, the sales campaign was starting in a couples of days so, we hurried up with tasks such as:
- helping with look book photos, which meant helping the Product Designers department with the models and the chosen outfits, repeat x10
- helping with taking technical photos of the collection. The picture you see on the Net-à-Porter site or on every online shop? with a white background? Those ones! We used a mannequin for clothes and a photographic set for accessories.
- helping the Visual Merchandising Departments a.k.a people that decide how & where to put items in the showrooms, setting up Women and Men collections following colour rules and the coat-shirt-pants-tee rule (more or less).
After that, we had to classify the whole collection. Not to mention, checking out that everything had arrived from the warehouse, the missing pieces, the double pieces, broken ones and other general tasks.
The day after the runaway we met the sellers with whom we would have been working all campaign long. They all were absolutely fantastic and fun to work with. Basically, we started presenting the Spring/Summer pre-collection to clients at the end of May and a few months later, it was time for the Spring/Summer Main Collection. Then between October and November we were ready for the new pre-collection; the Fall/Winter one. During the proper sales collection (each one lasting between a month or two), we basically had 3 main jobs:
- essentially a receptionist; welcoming clients, checking appointments, warning sales managers, head of the showroom and sellers of their arrival
- helping sellers with customers orders and with the collection
- helping models to get dressed and keeping the showroom ready and perfect
Days were really long and tiring but it was amazing to meet people from all other the world. It was hilarious each day trying to guess where clients came from just from how they looked (yes, pretty stereotypical, I know, but physiognomy can actually help) or running around the showroom with a puppy that followed you in the fitting rooms (that actually happened!).
What do you need to apply?
- Be a hard worker, not just a ‘PR Girl’
- Don’t take everything too seriously and smile.
- It’s better do something right and take 5 seconds more, than doing everything in a rush without thinking.
- Team work is essential, especially when sudden emergencies occur. Like a lack of models during rush hour!
- Living in the city was vital because you’d be working almost everyday. If not, you should always be available and you’d never know in advance when you’ll have a day off (this was definitely the most difficult part for me. I like to plan my week and didn’t even know when I could go grocery shopping!).
Languages weren’t really necessary, helpful yes, but I do think that the Italian fashion system is still very Italian and closed, especially for a big Italian brand. The whole Versace staff I was working with were Italian; I am such a huge fan of spoken English so I was a little bit disappointed. You are required to know English at least (you don’t need to know it perfectly, lots of big managers are at a B1 or lower level, and let’s not even talk about pronunciation). French, German & Spanish can always be helpful but if you really want to stand out, the language you should learn is Russian.
I learnt a lot, and now I have a much better understand of the world of retail and the fashion industry. I experienced the life inside a showroom and how collections are imagined through a specific mood, using old patterns of the past to create a modern collection… it is fascinating. I also learned a little bit of Russian and discovered the “models machinery” with agencies, photoshoots and runaways. Moreover, a client once told me I have a Dutch accent. Weird.
Unfortunately, after a while the job was suffocating for me: the same place for 6 and sometimes 7 days a week from morning to evening. I needed some fresh air, I simply couldn’t breathe there. So when they asked me to extend the internship I said no thank you. I knew it was no longer the right choice for me.
I think I am starting to realize that sometimes saying ‘no’ is a good thing.
But above all, it was absolutely a great experience.