An entry-level fashion job that many people covet is that of a fashion assistant. There are many perks to this position that is reserved for those that are truly devoted to fashion. However, since it’s such a desired role where only a few succeed, there is a challenging right of passage that every assistant to world-famous stylists, designers and directors accepts as part of their day-to-day responsibilities. A fashion assistant’s end goal is to become just as respected and accomplished as their mentors. FashionUnited takes a look at the pros and cons of the demanding yet exciting career as a fashion assistant.
Pro: A way into an immense contact network
As a fashion assistant, you could be helping to create looks for editorial content or assisting on major fashion shoots. It is a job that requires one to multitask and manage numerous projects simultaneously. A major responsibility is to call in products and source looks from PR agencies and brands for photoshoots. The fashion assistant serves as the direct contact between the PRs, models, celebrities and the high profile magazine, stylist or fashion brand. Through constant contact and building work relationships overtime, many fashion assistants end up compiling their own immense contact network within the industry.
Pro: Working closely with famous designers and influential brands
If you’re somebody that lives and breathes fashion, assisting a top designer or being part of a major fashion house can be a lifelong dream. Even though they usually have a large team, being an assistant for them places you at the center of the creative process. In the vlog “A Day in the Life of a Vogue Fashion Assistant,” Petta Chua, (fashion assistant at Vogue Australia) learned the importance of attention to detail while working with Salvatore Ferragamo such as how the perfect weight of tulle lifts in the wind and frames a dress.
Pro: Travel the world, be in exclusive and exotic locations
Glamour, beauty and travel seem to be synonymous with luxury brands or high fashion publications. This could be true for the life of a fashion assistant as many photoshoots require exclusive and one of a kind locations. From a multimillion-dollar mansion in Beverly Hills to the streets of Tokyo and even Coco Chanel’s apartment are just a few examples where fashion assistants have called “office” for a day.
Con: Low starting pay, overtime, menial tasks, heavy lifting
Working as a fashion assistant, you’re constantly reminded that your position is replaceable since there is so much competition. Low starting pay, overtime, heavy lifting and menial tasks are all part of the job description while traveling the world or attending fashion weeks. At the end of a photoshoot, you may be in charge of packing and dragging the heavy suitcases. Since it’s the fashion’s assistant’s job to pay attention to the specifics, the most meaningless tasks matter-from picking up needles on the floor to searching all day for the perfect prop to complete an editorial photoshoot.
Con: Constantly under pressure
The title “assistant” should not be taken lightly since you will serve as the brain of that high-profile stylist or director and need to memorize every look, face and name. Attending fashion weeks sound exciting and glamorous, but it can be a race to be on time to every show and extremely hectic coordinating the logistics. The fashion assistant is also the glue that makes sure all projects run smoothly. Formerly the European Editor of Harper’s Bazaar, Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, details in the book “After Andy: Adventures in Warhol Land” her time as a 26-year-old assistant at the Chanel Studio. During her 18 months working for the late Karl Lagerfeld, she once had to source 180 pale green taffeta camellias that matched Linda Evangelista’s eyes for a dress that ended up not being used.
Con: Emotionally and mentally draining
At the end of the day, fashion assistants are there to learn firsthand from their mentors. In this demanding and unique position, the line between personal time and work often becomes blurred. Your boss could demand you to be on call twenty-four seven and even treat you as their therapist, yet the assistant is expected to remain professional at all times. The ability to remain in this grey area, adhere to tight deadlines, juggle projects can be extremely draining emotionally and mentally. However, if you stick it out and succeed, fashion assistants usually go on to become top directors, influential stylists or renowned designers themselves.
Click here to apply for assistant jobs in fashion in the US.