Confessions of a Fashion Design Assistant
I asked the girls in the office about their previous roles in the fashion industry and what I got was a lot of dirty laundry. These are our scandalous stories.
“The Creative Director ripped up his proposal and said…”
The Devil Wears Lycra
Two years into my first design role, my boss called me into her office. We called her The Devil Wears Lycra. On this particular day she had her reading glasses on the tip of her nose, and without looking up at me, she casually mentioned that, “We are leaving for Paris on Sunday.” I remember thinking, “Who are we? Does she mean me?” I nodded, “Ok,” and left her office. It was simultaneously the most chilled and crazy moment of my life. After a 32 hour flight, feeling like a straight up mess at 6am, I joined her in the most opulent hotel restaurant I had ever seen. With no shower, no unpacking, and not even seeing our rooms, we were off and racing to work. The industry has a glamorous facade but in reality we are running around the world looking like trash!
I was in a production meeting and we were discussing the next campaign which had to support a charity. The Production Manager passionately wanted to support gorillas and he was talking about the effects of palm oil. The Creative Director ripped up his proposal and said, “F### THE ORANGUTANS.” When we left the meeting, the director asked me, “Are you enjoying your first day?”
In my first week at a new job, I knocked a mannequin over, which knocked another mannequin, which knocked another mannequin, which smashed into a glass door. The door shattered and had to be replaced. The damage was worth over $1000. I walked away, then I came back, and said, “I think I just did that.” My colleague said, “I think you did.”
I worked at a lingerie company many years ago and we used a gorgeous fit model named Bubbles. On this day, Bubbles was completely starkers in the fit room. My colleagues were two mature ladies on the fuller side. It was a very hot day, so they were half dressed, only wearing bras and shorts to combat the heat, while they were fitting Bubbles into a babydoll nightie. At that moment the Telstra guy walked up the stairs and waved to me his usual “G’day,” then turned around to see a nude busty Bubbles and two half-naked dressmakers.
“It was ground-swallowing embarrassment.”
I used to dress models before runway shows, and for this particular show the model had a white fully-sequined gown with a g-string underneath. But the g-string was showing through the dress, so before she went on the catwalk, I took the underwear off her. The story was retold to my son by someone behind the scenes. From there, my six-year-old son decided that I was a stripper and told 120 of his classmates, and they all told their parents. I could never quite shake the reputation as the school stripper mum.
The Throw-away Bride
I was at a fitting with a bride once and she’d gained weight. She got quite emotional, put the dress back in the box and threw it at me, which jabbed me in the chest. I said I could take it back to customer service for her. She was horrified and started ranting and threatening me. The Mother of the bride was the worst. She yelled, “This probably wouldn’t even fit you!” A couple of months later, we ran into each other at a pilates class.
The Burlesque Society
When I was working as a lingerie designer at my previous job, we used to give a lot of support to the local uni because they offered a lingerie course. I was roped into going to a runway show with my boss who was never awkward, but at this particular event they decided to have some entertainment beforehand. Being VIPs we were seated front row, and I was sat there next to my middle-aged male boss as we watched three girls wearing nipple tassels coming towards us. He kept saying, “Where do I look?” I couldn’t stop laughing. The following week, we were emailed the photos and there we were, in every single image, cringing in the front row. It was ground-swallowing embarrassment.
Lost in Translation
In my previous job, our brand was branching out to the USA for the first time. I was sent to China for a week to quality control every single garment that would be delivered to our new store in LA. I failed an entire order of jackets, because their trims were falling loose. I placed them on the faulty rack to be sent back to the sewing factory with the paperwork. Over in LA, my boss attended the store launch party, and during the event she discovered an array of faulty jackets and had to casually hide them from potential stockists who were attending the event. Turns out the factory had never mended them. The subject of the email I received from her was, “WHAT THE F###.”