The Recap: 21

Ever since I was 14, I have been asking to go to New York for my birthday. It may have taken a while, but I woke up on my 21st with Manhattan just outside my window. It was a crisp fall weekend in the city, perfect for my first visit, and Teen Vogue’s Fashion University.

After being accepted (I submitted a questionnaire, photos and clippings of articles), I scrambled to get into all of my first choice classes. My schedule ended up including seminars with Rachel Roy, the Teen Vogue Editors, Peter Som and Proenza Schouler.

The night I landed I attempted to control my excitement. Needless to say I scrambled to find 4 Times Square, snapping pictures like tourists typically would at the Empire State building. My photography went on to include the New York Times, the Hearst building, and an endless array of newsstands. This was a mag-addict’s New York.

I decided not to waste any time before Fashion U officially commenced. Before heading to NYC, I had organized a quick coffee with L, formerly of Seventeen Magazine. Sitting in the Hearst cafeteria, I felt truly privileged to pick her brain about working at a magazine and the big move to NYC.

After skimming through my birthday texts and grabbing a quick breakfast, I rushed to my first seminar at Fashion U. Riding up the Condé Nast elevators for the first time, something came over me and suddenly this bright young Canadian was introducing herself to all of her favourite faces from Teen Vogue. I was thrilled to meet Elana Fishman because it’s obvious that the current Teen Vogue Fashion News intern is poised for great things in the industry.

Despite my unsteady hand (the photos prove it), I took detailed notes in each of my seminars. Rachel Roy spoke about ambition, determination and being true to your vision in the industry. Her seminar was my first choice because I admire her as a woman and designer. Unfortunately, I had to rush out of 4TS to make it to my seminar with the Editors. I ran across the street, dropped my bag on a seat and darted to the front of the theater. Before the seminar began, I introduced myself to Teen Vogue Fashion News Director, Jane Keltner. In the few minutes I had, I asked her about stand-out resumes and informational interviews. Having already gotten some advice, I nearly skipped back to my seat when the editors officially began. After lunch came Peter Som, who spoke about the process that takes him from inspiration boards to the final line. I love hearing about what inspires people in fashion, whether it’s a place, a colour, or a feeling. Finally, my day concluded with Pronza Schouler. Two young guys who met at Parsons and went on to win acclaim from some of the most prominent voices in fashion. I have always loved their clothes, and have continued to follow their work since hearing them at Fashion U.

There were a couple of main points that kept coming up throughout the weekend. First, it doesn’t necessarily matter what you’ve studied. Each of the speakers attested to the fact that students shouldn’t discourage themselves because they didn’t attend a fashion school. Whatever you’re interested in only contributes to your personal viewpoint. Secondly, internships are an extremely valuable source of practical experience. Research opportunities, find them, and inquire about them because it never hurts to ask.

Of course I couldn’t have left New York without planning my next visit. And so I hurriedly called my friend in the West Village almost as soon as I landed back in Toronto. It wasn’t the last New York had seen of me. Oh, and it was the best birthday ever.

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