Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Week 3 at Cosmopolitan

(My internet has been down - hence the late post...)

When you’ve been away for a while there’s nothing quite like home. My room is a mess, my suitcase spilling open on the floor and bags and clothes filling every available space, but my bed is still my bed and after a nightmare journey on Friday evening there was nowhere that I’d rather be.

Despite how comforting it is to be home, I am putting off unpacking. To unpack is to accept that I won’t be going up to London on Monday morning, or arriving into the Cosmo office and chatting to the others. I can’t wait to see my friends on Monday, but part of me is still Cosmo girl at heart.

This week was hectic, as the fashion director is off sick and the fashion editor was away. This meant the fashion assistants had to cover the fashion editor’s work whilst doing their own as well - although I offered to help as much as possible I got the impression at times that it was best to just stay out of the way. There were three interns this week, me, Laura (who was here for the first week) and Lindsey (who was here last week). The fashion assistants set us the task of finding all the prices for the items that had been shot in New York and South Africa. I caught a sneak glimpse at some of the photos, and they looked gorgeous. One particular shoot stole my heart - all sugar shades and bubblegum brights - the fashion assistants were not in the least surprised that this story was my favourite. I spent most of this week, therefore, on the phone to fashion houses and PR companies. Amongst the many phone calls I made I was sometimes met by the strangest replies: automated messages trilling in American accents and bizarre inspirational music blasting down the phone whilst I was on hold. One company had christmas music playing, which made me smile.

You’d think that companies would know the prices of their products, however on some occasions I had to squeeze and pester to get the information. I’ll call you back, I’ll email you... (it didn’t help that my email decided to throw a temper tantrum, only letting emails through when it felt like it). I can tell that the powers of persuasion and a friendly phone voice (the kind you get when you smile crazily whilst on the phone - however insane you may look, it really does make you sound like you could think of nothing lovelier than being on the phone right at that second) must come in handy as a fashion journalist. I have also seen the other side of things though, how the friendly PR companies get in the good books. I am a die-hard believer in niceness so it is encouraging to see that a lot of the time it can pay off.

I phoned Chanel this week, this time looking for the price of the white long-sleeved top. I nearly fell of my seat when I was told it was £900. Ah the joys of fashion. I know it is ludicrous to charge £900 for a white cotton top, but part of me also loves it - the prices some people (who have far to much money, I might add) will pay for those infamous interlocked ‘C’s. I could never bring myself to spend that amount of money on a t-shirt, but I rejoice in the fact that some people do; it is glamorous, ludicrous, hilarious and the stuff of fairy tales all at the same time.

Back on planet earth and there are so many high-street pieces I am yearning after for next summer. Perhaps it may be nearly Christmas, and freezing cold outside, but I am dreaming of fun summer dresses and stripy nautical numbers I can snap up from River Island or Topshop. Having spent a total of 7 weeks in the Cosmo fashion cupboard I now have an added pride and love of the British high street. From feather skirts that look like designer, to the cheap and cheerful tops and dresses that stock the nation’s wardrobes, our high street shops churn out style. The Chanel top may be one aspect of it, but this is the other face of fashion. Of course there are problems with mass production and commercialisation; small business suffer and it becomes difficult to be individual for starters. But I love the fact that pretty much anyone can go to Topshop, Oasis, River Island or even Primark and Matalan, and come back with something that taps in to catwalk trends but doesn’t break the bank. We can even pick up the odd gem when we do our food shopping now, with lines such as George at Asda and Tu at Sainsbury’s making clothes that often grace the pages of magazines like Cosmo, as well as supplying everyday basics. Just throw those jeans in the trolley with the vegetables and cornflakes. I rejoice in the fact that it is not just the wealthy who can enjoy a love for fashion nowadays. But at the same time I love flicking through the glossy pages of Vogue and getting a peak at the lives of those rare specimens: the truly glamorous, and seeing the unattainable luxury and infamous style of the Chanel world - the fashion elite. Perhaps it’s hypocritical, but I think it’s just the fabulous, clashing, buzzing mix that is fashion.

On Thursday the editor called me into her office and asked me my opinion on next issue’s front cover. Ok, she may have also called in pretty much everyone in the office, but I like to think that my personal opinion was what helped her make the final decision. We had to choose between 3 different cover shots, so if, come March, I see the image I preferred standing on the newsagent shelf I shall of course be taking all the credit. I really liked Cosmo before, particularly for it’s coverage of gorgeous but attainable fashion, but now I feel like I should be a salesperson for the magazine. In all honesty (apologies to the Cosmo girls) I am a Vogue girl at heart, but I love the ‘fun and fearlessness’ Cosmo stands for. And after having met such lovely people and seen the passion that literally fizzes inside the office I will always have a soft spot for the magazine that nothing else will quite compare to. Cosmopolitan gave me my first (and an invaluable) insight into the industry and proved to me that this is what I want to do.

On my last evening in London, Laura the lovely intern took me out to celebrate in style. I have been so busy that apart from Christmas shopping, I haven’t actually seen that much of London. I hope that one day I will be a true city slicker, but right now I’m still the country girl who takes ages crossing the road and has a terrible sense of direction. Laura lives here and says she loves showing people around when they come up, so she gave me a little guided tour of London at Christmas. First to Somerset House. We had planned to go ice skating; it was fully booked, but having never been to Somerset House before I was as happy as a little child anyway. I am possibly one of the most Christmassy people in the world (I think I was perhaps an elf in a past life) so the sight of Somerset House glowing above the ice rink and towering Tiffany Christmas tree filled me with festive cheer. The rink was heaving with skaters, wrapped in coats and scarves and holding mittened hands as they slid across the ice. You got a chill just from standing near the rink, cue a bar serving mulled wine. Beside the ice rink stood a Tiffany pop-up shop - a small room shaped like the famous Tiffany blue box and wrapped up with ribbon. Inside blue iced fairy cakes huddled on stands amidst chocolate hearts, whilst a cabinet at the back of the shop displayed sparkling Tiffany jewellery. My particular favourite was a tiny silver key, it was suspended from a thin chain that was twisted into the branches of a miniature golden tree. After Somerset House we walked through China Town, to the very Christmassy Covent Garden and down the Thames where there was a Christmas market complete with hot Christmas puddings, decorated gingerbread hearts and a glittering merry-go-round that spun rainbow lights in the dark air. Then it was to Pizza Express for chatting, pizza, and (one of my favourite things in the whole world) banoffee pie. It seemed the perfect end to an amazing 3 weeks.

On Friday, my last day, I went to John Lewis in my lunch to buy a thank you present for the Cosmo fashion team. One of the fashion assistants had been complaining how Scrouge-like the office was looking (the IT department downstairs is strewn with tinsel and merriment; they even have their own blow up snowman) so I decided to buy a goodie bag full of things to Christmassify the department. In the afternoon I gave them the gifts, and was given my own gift - the joy of putting them all up. Throwing health and safety to the side I clambered up the rickety step ladder, wrapping a pillar in gold and silver tinsel. As I worked my Christmas magic I imagined looking at myself at that moment - doing work experience at one of the biggest fashion magazines but covered in glitter, hanging silver stars to the fashion cupboard door frame and attaching baubles to the computers. It is safe to say it is an experience I will never forget. I think perhaps once I had finished it looked like a very drunk Christmas fairy had visited (I got tangled in the tinsel and couldn’t wrap it neatly around the pillar so went for a more ‘freestyle’ effect) but I hope that it will at least make them smile.

There was a bit of a crisis in the afternoon. We were awaiting the return of the suitcases of clothes from South Africa, and have had PR companies on the phone needing their clothes back for shoots and meetings. They were expected first thing in the morning. But lunch came and went, and they still hadn’t arrived. By 3 o’clock I phoned the logistics company, who told me that (despite having been told just yesterday that they would reach us this morning) the suitcases hadn’t left South Africa yet ... eeek! There wasn’t a lot that could be done in the mean time, but I felt awful leaving in the knowledge that there would be mayhem on Monday. Although it is safe to say that after having already taken 3 weeks off school I would probably be demoted as head girl if I didn’t go back on Monday, especially as it is speech day and I am expected to make a speech (which I haven’t planned yet - another eeek!).

Before I knew it, it was time for me to leave. I seemed to have all my worldly possessions with me (I still don’t know how I managed to get myself, my suitcase, rucksack and several other bags across the underground at rush hour - twice - I feel quite triumphant) and the thought of the journey home was just one of the many reasons I didn’t want to go. As I left one of the fashion assistants gave me a present to say thank you - inside were some pink Nougat candles and a (deep breath for dramatic effect) RED LEATHER SMYTHSON MAKE UP CASE. It is possibly the most beautiful piece of animal skin I have seen in my whole life. Right now it is lying in a bed of tissue paper next to my pillow so that is the first thing I see when I wake up. I was running late so could only gush a quick (but deeply meant) thank you and goodbye. Before I knew it I was walking out the office doors, and it was the second time I was leaving, and the second time I felt like crying. As I left the receptionist said it had been a pleasure working with me and she hoped I would be back. And as I walked down Carnaby Street looking up at the bambis and ‘Love’ hearts floating above me and thinking back over the past three weeks, I thought to myself - so do I.



  1. I miss you all too and would be back like a shot if I could! Grr to school and A levels! :D xx