I turned the corner and saw the most grand runway that lit up as models descended from the entrance. I was sitting next to my co-workers who at the time I was still a bit uncomfortable with trying to contain my awe and excitement. It was my first fashion week, but more importantly it felt as though the best artists in the world had congregated to craft an immaculate show. I watched this team work 15 hour days for weeks on end preparing for their moment. My leaders consistently push themselves to grow and evolve with each collection while channeling the essence of what Louis Vuitton is; this filters down into their teams who push one another to always be hungry for more.
At first, when I arrived in Paris two months ago, I was most surprised about how comfortable I felt. A physical place that I felt captured my personal essence, and a fashion culture that was not built on social climbing but rather genuine taste, interest in beauty, and true grit. A place crawling with artists, poets, jazz, and most importantly people that love to exist amongst those elements. There is an appreciation for antiquity, taste, romanticism, raw beauty, and a very different kind of sex appeal. When I begin my commute to work in the mornings, the air is hushed and the subway is bustling with quite bodies; it is always peaceful for me.
The first day of work, I looked down at my keyboard and realized it was all mixed up, different. I was introduced, in French, to everybody who I’d be working with in the studio and atelier; at this time I did not know the difference between the masculine and feminine way to say, “Nice to meet you” and when I said it wrong everybody giggled knowing I would not make this rude mistake again. Almost all of the atelier speaks only French, therefore I had to learn very quickly how to make myself understood. My current boss asked me if I spoke french in my interview, I said no but I would learn. Now, I am well versed with fashion terminology, and I am speaking conversationally with the help of a glass of wine.
I was thrown into an environment that was completely different than anything I had been used to in the States. I failed a few times, I was too slow and still am sometimes. I am fueled by designers that can make a treasure out of anything they touch. Being a sponge is not enough, you have to find a way to absorb information, learn, and then generate your own ideas and present your findings. It’s just like school, and nothing like school. You have to know things that you wouldn’t know unless you do it wrong first, and you are always aware that you are replaceable until proven otherwise. I’ve kept a file of my, “firsts” and it’s quite embarrassing but a good reminder of how quickly I had to learn, and how I will never stop learning. It’s aggressive, yet I am respected and learning directly from three people who I aspire to become someday.
I am commonly asked if I miss America and my answer is always the same. No, I don’t miss it that much, but I miss my friends, family, and occasionally certain comforts. I am missing the friends that make me light up and laugh until I piss my pants. It physically hurts to be far away from them and sometimes I cry on the weekend mornings because I miss them so much. I am so proud to know people outside of fashion that fight for their dreams and keep me grounded in reality no matter how far away they are.
There is so much more to say but I am learning that secrets are okay, transparency is good at the right moments… Cheers to being content, a life of learning, and that rocky early 20s phase of expiration dates, surprise moves, and partying with the cheapest bottle of wine you can find.