Natalie Massenet Smiled at Me

Image: Maria Morri.
Image: Maria Morri.

Talk to just about anyone in the fashion industry – buyer, writer, stylist, whatever they may be, and you can be certain they’ll have a few stories about their time as an intern. Internships are the start of everyone’s careers and they can be dreadful or potentially life changing. They are what you make of them.

Internships are a hot topic and as university students we’re often told by parents, professors and peers about the importance of getting as much experience as we possibly can. It’s quite daunting thinking about the rest of your life isn’t it?

I’m writing this after a three-month internship at the Net-a-Porter Group. I was a fashion intern. Horrible stories about fashion internships often including the dreaded fashion cupboard filled with beautiful clothes that you adore, and probably can’t afford. My internship was completely different; I grew surprisingly attached to the company and the people I worked with. I had been transported to a world of infinite style and taste, mentored by people who were not bitchy, snobby nor judgmental – a stereotype that Lauren Weisberger, author of the Devil Wears Prada books, is guilty of creating. Instead, I was greeted by kind, intelligent and wickedly funny people. Not just pretty faces.

I had joined at the perfect time. The London Collections: Men was in full swing and I assisted at the MR PORTER presentation featuring the exclusive collections of Christopher Raeburn, Agi & Sam and J.W.Anderson. I was thrilled and so eager to help, thrown in the deep end and had to learn fast. I had seven models needing their trousers hemming and had never done any tailoring before. I was shown how to do one and left to do the rest, solo. Thankfully I didn’t screw up my first major task and it turns out I did pretty well; despite being terrified my handiwork would unravel in the middle of the presentation. After that I ended up hemming all the trousers on all the shoots for the creative editorial department.

I assisted on shoots for the Junior Fashion Editor and Style Director. It was thrilling, exciting and, in my opinion, glamourous. Yes, I was doing the grunt work – ordering clothes, unpacking, re-packing, steaming, putting clothes on models and talent and constantly on the phone with Addison Lee, but I loved it.

It didn’t feel like work, most of the time. Of course it wasn’t always so glamourous, most of the time I’d be returning clothes. Don’t buy into the whole cliché of meeting the rich, famous and fabulous elite, most of the time you will be in a windowless cupboard returning mounds of the softest cashmeres and luxurious silks. The worst job would be editing online videos to make them shoppable – so that the viewer can click the items and link to the purchase page. Sounds simple, right? It’s the most time consuming thing I’ve ever done.

As an intern, your job is to be everyone’s assistant and sometimes that means doing the unwanted jobs. Always be keen, approachable and enthusiastic; put yourself up for any and every task. You might surprise yourself: one regular day I was doing returns and walked past Natalie Massenet [founder of Net-a-Porter]. She looked directly into my eyes and smiled. I can die now. I’m totally unashamed that I’m weird fan-boying my former employer.

Having seen the last Journal I worked on, I’m feeling quite emotional. I think it’s high time I went on MRPORTER to do what every normal student does: blow my loan on clothes I don’t need.  But that’s hardly the point, is it?

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