i-D Fashion Editor Jack Borkett, knows a thing or two about borrowing samples. NEVER wear them out, NEVER let anyone else wear them and ALWAYS take a selfie - you may never own a Louis Vuitton headdress or McQueen mask but as long as the world can see that you once got your hands on them, that's enough. Dressing up is one of the most fun parts of a shoot - here's what really goes on behind the locked fashion cupboard doors...
There has been enough said of the hard work and toil in the fashion assisting game - all heavy lifting and split carrier bags… So you must be wondering why so many people persist and struggle with no money, no sick days and not much gratitude for all your hard work.
This is not everyone of course. My assistant knows only too well how she is regarded like the high priestess of the Fashion Cupboard. Without who #fashion #glamour #drama would not be born, and whose desire to slip into a thigh high and corset at any opportunity thrills me much more than knowing Louis Vuitton’s address off by heart and eclipses the fact she struggles with an iron. You know, sometimes a longing for the carefree days of fashion’s yesteryear is far more important than a monotone voice and an interest only in the Dover Street sample sale and a Céline jacket perched on their shoulders at all times. They aren’t Mario Testino’s agent for f**k sake.
For me, drowning in the office – like a baby seal in an oil slick of designer masterpieces and endless trinkets - the only question on my mind is, ’’which couture pile to start working on next?’’ whilst trying to keep my eyes open with blanket pins and lots of coffee.
Amongst the chaos there is one thing that is always enticing. The clothes! Everything you can imagine; Wang, Céline, Givenchy, McQueen, Gaultier vintage - trunk after trunk of amazing-ness. I find most of the best assistants have an element of drag star quality whereby they may have been assisting non-stop for several days but the first moment they can grasp the opportunity and play dress up, they do - and with great aplomb! They are also tough, like the sole of a sample shoe close to the end of it’s season. Fabulous but overworn, yet charming in it’s overuse, much like a porn star on her last legs (close to heel-break if another foots slips in).
There is also the chance to mingle with your idols. Most "fashion people" were born like this, so several hold God-like status and notoriety. I remember the first glimpse of Meisel through a polystyrene board. Oh the glamour, that one glimpse of a black hoodie and dark shades was enough to provide that elusive pinch me moment/ "fashiongasm". He shot the sex book! The moment is quickly devoured by production informing me that Steven has seen me and that I would be escorted god knows where so it didn’t happen again!
This is a group activity with role reversal possible. It’s not everyday you are stood side by side in a McQueen finale look with Kate Moss trying to zip your (my) 24 inches of extra flesh into. Note, this is not really allowed. So don’t get found out and keep everything perfect - this is a fun and essential way of getting through the day, but split zips and snapped off feathers are strictly not allowed - you will be punished! This also comes after years of hard work and selfless sacrifice by the way, do not think that in your first week you can start touching things, give styling advice to others and gossip with hair and make-up. Know your place and assess the situation. Everyone is very different and if some people are pleasant there are 100 others that are rude, lazy and slightly up their own a**e, so treat everyone cautiously and do what your told. Mannners maketh the wo/man.
As travel is a big part of shoots, learning to cope with mass bag transportation is essential. You can sometimes be left solo with trunks, duffels and hat boxes in airports and train stations without help. An ability to not give up is always helpful - and never drag. You will be surprised how many samples can be destroyed by a suitcase with no wheels. Secondly, think on your feet, you never know when you may need to lie. There have been so many times when travelling to New York that I have been stopped, my bags searched and then heavily questioning as to why I had two body bags full of lingerie and jewellery.
Again the secret drag personality comes to helpful effect. Be weary though, they once made me try on a J.W Anderson size 38 which was more like a mule on my jungle claws... hanging precariously off, I grasped hard and simply implied that was the look and carried on grabbing and wrapping "have you not been to Limelight darling?" If in doubt, make your eyes crossed and smirk. This tends to scare them. Especially with one shoe on and some outlandish student creation draped over the shoulder. I always provided the quirky London bits.
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