Fashion week gives exciting student experience

TaLezia Calloway

Student works hands-on with different well-known designers to get a stitch above the competition

Kim Phillips, senior fashion merchandising major, watches the fashion show in which she helped designers prepare for Fashion Week in New York City. The show was held in Bryant Park, and had 500 people in attendance. Phillips did her summer internship in N

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Senior year of college is an exciting and scary time. Students are almost done with the first step of life preparation and at the same time have to be ready for the world.

Fashion merchandising major Kim Phillips has a plan and for two years gained hands-on experience in her field. Olympus Fashion Week provided this opportunity.

“I’ve always liked fashion and how you can create yourself differently every day,” she said.

The event takes place every year at Bryant Park in New York City. It is put together by 7th on Sixth, which is a division of IMG Fashion. The week is sponsored by camera manufacturer Olympus.

Big names are seen everywhere at the event as different collections are shown, said Linda Ohrn, assistant professor in the fashion school.

“There’s a lot of famous designers who present their work there,” Ohrn said.

Phillips knew this too. Knowing the experience she could gain from working during Olympus Fashion Week, she searched the web for designers who may have needed help during the week and sent out her resume. She wrote 15 letters to different designers and received eight responses.

“I am a visual learner,” she said. “I learn better with a hands-on approach.”

In February 2005, Phillips got the direct training she sought. She worked for five different designers at the event. They included Pamella DeVos, designer for Pamella Roland, Tracy Reese, Catherine Malandrino, Kimora Lee Simmons for Baby Phat and Narcisco Rodriguez.

Other designers included Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs. There were also newer designers there from the television show “Project Runway.” However, her favorite designers are Esteban Cortazar and Narcisco Rodriguez.

“They have women in mind when they make their clothes. They are classy yet flirty,” she said.

The first show she attended was one for Baby Phat. There she met Paula Abdul, Eva Longoria, Usher, JC Chasez, Missy Elliot, and Tommy Hilfiger. Specifically she worked at the front of the house and actually seated those famous guests.

“Every other person was a celebrity,” she said. “They were all over. It was crazy. I’m like this girl from a little town in Ohio standing around all of these people.”

She also saw what it was like to work backstage as a dresser and a runner for models. Models have their own station where a bag contains their makeup, accessories and shoes. Designers provide dressers with pictures of what the model should look like before hitting the runway, she said.

There are shows from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Phillips said. She worked from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. sometimes and has even been asked to stay longer. She summed up the week as seven days of chaotic fun.

“Backstage is crazy,” she said. “You really see the difference in designers, as some are real uptight, and some are more organized. There’s always people running around.”

After her hard work in February, she returned again to Olympus Fashion Week in September. From this first time at the fashion week, she also landed a summer internship with designer Pamella Roland. She says that it was a good experience because of the company’s professionalism. She immediately clicked with the staff.

“It’s fun because it’s a smaller company and you get to do everything,” she said.

This year Olympus Fashion Week was held Feb. 3 through Feb. 10, and Phillips was on the scene. Knowing the flow of the week, she was seasoned this time around. She helped cast models for shows, choose the music, decide the order the models would come out and assist in the fitting of the clothes.

Usually, behind the scenes, Phillips did not get to actually watch a show; however, this year she was able to do this because the production company got their names on a list. Every show is by invitation only, she explained. She remembers attending about 10 different shows, and to top it off, she was able to bring friends and family.

While Phillips meets celebrities such as Halle Berry and Freddie Prinze Jr., and watches professional models up close, she is also preparing for her future. When she graduates, she plans to go into the production side of fashion, as well as advertising, she said.

Contact features correspondent TaLeiza Calloway at [email protected].