Culture

What it’s really like to work at Vogue

RESIZED PARIS

She’s starred in Anna Wintour’s 73 Questions video, eaten pizza with Grace Coddington, and even managed to attend the coveted Met Gala.

Not many can say they’ve spent time in the hallowed halls of US Vogue, but New Zealand stylist Paris Mitchell can.

Mitchell landed the job a million girls would kill for when she was hired as the assistant to US Vogue design director, Raul Martinez. She has since returned home to Auckland where she is constantly in-demand as a stylist and also co-founded online store The Mercantile and clothing line Paris Georgia Basics with pal Georgia Cherrie.

Like any fashion obsessive, I love flipping through the pages of Vogue each month, dreaming about what it would be like to breath the same air as Anna Wintour. So when it came time for me to interview Mitchell, I jumped at the chance to get the ultimate insider view into what it’s like to work at the fashion bible:

FQ: What was it like working at US Vogue and what did your role entail?
Paris Mitchell:
It was a wonderful experience that I am very grateful for. I worked under the most talented people in the industry and soaked up as much as I could. Working for Raul Martinez was the best part of my job. He was the most inspiring person with a heart of gold.  This man could juggle Anna Wintour, four fashion editors and a gazillion shoots all at one time – oh and did I mention he also has another successful business outside of that?  You can see why Raul required a full-time assistant. I remember him laughing saying anyone would need a psychology degree to do his job!

What was your first day at Vogue like?
Nerve-wracking like any new job! The ‘Vogue doors’ are just as they appear in the movies, but by the time my first day came around I was so used to them – the lengthy interview process may have rubbed off the novelty a bit!

What surprised you most about Vogue?
It’s just another workplace filled with hardworking, talented and kind people. Everyone has a different story and a different background. It was such a privilege getting to know such a diverse range of people. Also that there was a treat draw full of sweets – who would have thought?

What was it like meeting Anna Wintour for the first time?
My automatic response was to stand there and just smile – enough said.

What was the Vogue fashion closet like?
It is where all the magic happened! Collections straight off the runway would almost be falling out of the closet –  it was impossible not to walk past without having a peep!

Paris at the 2014 MET Gala.

Paris in a white Alberta Ferretti gown at the 2014 MET Gala. Photo: Paris Mitchell.


Did you ever have a “pinch me, am I dreaming” moment?

Yes of course! But it was also shocking how fast things became the norm, although I don’t think communicating with Anna Wintour everyday ever became ‘normal.’

What was it like being in Anna Wintour’s 73 Questions video?  
There’s always some kind of exciting project going on and I happened to get thrown into that one. I definitely learned I am no actress and hearing my Kiwi accent makes me laugh!

What are some of your favourite memories from your experience at Vogue?
1. Having my photo taken by Bill Cunningham at The Met Gala.
2. I have fond memories of having pizza in Grace Coddington’s office on a Friday.
3. Assisting on a Patrick Demarchelier and Jamie Hawkesworth shoot. Hawkesworth is my favourite photographer so you can imagine how exciting this was!

Did you ever have a starstruck moment?
Jake Gyllenhaal comes to mind! And the likes of supermodel Karlie Kloss, who would always be wandering through the offices. It was always nice to casually bump into incredible actresses I’ve grown up admiring.

How would you describe Vogue and the people that work at the magazine?
I loved that the fashion editors Grace, Tonne, Phyllis, Camilla and of course Anna are women in their 50s and 60s. Sure, the Vogue office is filled with young professionals, but the women in the most respected roles have been in the industry the longest and that’s the way things should be. We should all be learning from them.

What was the best piece of advice you received during your time there?
I was told that if I could go home and do what I love in my career and be with the ones I love – my family – then I was mad not to be at home. New York is such a zoo. This advice was a blessing.

What did you learn most throughout your time at Vogue?
That success comes to those who work incredibly hard.

Check out Paris in Anna Wintour’s 73 Questions video below.

Words: Nathalie Owen
Photos: Paris Mitchell

FEATURED