‘Wonder Women’ in The City

The streets of Manhattan were wide awake Saturday morning.  The traffic noises, people bustling closely together on the sidewalks and horns blowing from taxi cabs all seem to combine to give the morning commute some melody. But as the streets narrowed walking towards Times Square, there was a much larger beat coming from West 44th and Broadway.

Five hundred girls were rushing to the doors of the Hudson Theatre as they anxiously strutted down the small carpeted “runway” to the registration table.

For one full weekend in October, Teen Vogue hosts an event for high school seniors and college students to come to the big apple and learn about all the different careers in the fashion industry.

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Teen Vogue Fashion U

Over 1,000 girls apply but only 500 are accepted into the program and almost all of those women attending are competing for the ultimate, most sought after position for their age group–an internship.

Students choose the seminars they want and leave with not only great networking connections but fashionable friends (and clothes) and even a swag bag filled with goodies from sponsors of the event. The best part is, there’s no homework and they’re seminars are being taught by the best in the business.

Lindsay Masciana, a recent graduate from the University of Maryland, spent a lot of time on her application.

“I wanted to attend Fashion University because it seemed like a great opportunity to hear about how designers and editors became part of the fashion industry,” she said.

Masciana, developed an interest in fashion at a very young age. Her father traveled to countries like Switzerland and Geneva and always came back with unique apparel that in Masciana’s words, “sparked” her imagination.

Flash forward many years later and Masciana still has a strong interest in design and personal style.

“I began taking sewing classes at G Street Fabrics and learned how to use a sewing machine,” she said.

While Masciana came to Fashion U with a sewing background, other fashionistas came with other industry backgrounds from retail experience to working in designer showrooms.

“I’m involved with a few marketing groups and I write for my school’s fashion magazine,” Kerry Chereskin, a junior at Michigan State University said.

Aspiring writers, editors, designers, photographers and stylists ventured off into the near distance of the Hudson Theatre and the Condé Nast building across the street for their seminars to begin.

The fashionable curriculum was comprised of fashion designers like Rebecca Minkoff, Reem Acra, Thakoon and Derek Lam along with representatives of popular brands like Juicy Couture and H&M in addition to various make-up connoisseurs, stylists and editors of Teen Vogue.

Teens decked out in their most stylish and original outfit eagerly waited outside of the rooms in hopes of getting a front row seat to listen to the industry secrets closely.

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Stylist Eric Daman shares his insight on the fashion world, celebrities and popular trends

“I don’t think you need to attend fashion school in order to succeed in the business,” said Eric Daman, the head costume designer for Gossip Girl and the new creative director for Charlotte Russe.

It was right after Daman stopped talking when at least a dozen hands, some with bright colored nail polish, surged from the seats in hopes of getting their number one question answered.

“I want to be a stylist. What type of job or internship should I try and get to getting my foot in the door?” asked a girl wearing a 80s looking blazer with over the knee boots.

The room was quiet because no young fashionista wanted to miss out on hearing the answer to a question like that.

“If you can’t get an internship with a styling agency, then I would suggest working in retail,” Daman responded.

Maybe the well-know stylist’s response wasn’t what the girl with the neon green nail polished fingers was looking for, but it was a practical, realistic answer.

Chereskin, an aspirin editor, attended the Teen Vogue 101 seminar and some perspective from editor-in-chief, Amy Astley.

“I learned that you have to do as much as you can to learn about the industry and open yourself up to as much culture and information as you can everyday,” said Chereskin thoughtfully. “Start a blog and get involved with a school newspaper,” Chereskin summarized.

It was when Fashion U’s keynote speaker and fashion designer icon took the stage that everyone fell quiet to listen to the wise words of a woman who essentially worked her way up on the hierarchy ladder of fashion.

The president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Diane von Furstenberg addressed students by telling her life story and what she’s passionate about.

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Diane von Furstenberg speaking at the Hudson Theatre

And while many Fashion U students may have felt somewhat deterred with the high volume of competitiveness, it did not subtract from the mutual inspiration and energy shared with not only the participants but designers and experts alike as they listened to Furstenberg speak.

“I want every woman to feel great,” said Furstenberg in her semi-thick accent. “I like to empower women and give them the confidence to feel strong and sexy,” she said.

“Beneath all of us, is a wonder woman.”

Check out a clip of Furstenberg answering questions from students.

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