Conde Nast Talk

Conde Nast Talk

Still privately owned, Conde Nast are better known for the publication of fashion magazines such as Love, GQ and Vogue, to name just a few. They are a massive multi-media machine offering a mind blowing range of career opportunities in the field of fashion where one million people are employed in the UK alone and globally the industry is worth in excess of $3 trillion. Confirming that London is the global capital of fashion, Zoe Souter, our guest speaker is passionate about her career and the opportunities it presents for the future generations and she strongly believes that machines, robots and artificial intelligence are never going to replace human creativity. She describes it as a lifestyle and not a job and encourages students to push the boundaries and be prepared to start at the bottom in order to achieve their goals.

Zoe began her career studying Geography at the University of Cambridge, but transferred to Art History after her first year. She had known for some time that she wanted to work in the creative industries and, after graduating, was offered a job as assistant to Norman Parkinson, which she very nearly turned down! She explains that she felt as a Cambridge graduate she was above merely being a personal assistant and it was only after she spoke to her father about the role, that she decided to say yes. Her father told her that she would not get many opportunities like this in her lifetime and that if she was serious about the fashion industry, then she needed to start at the bottom and earn respect through hard work.

Norman Parkinson, for those too young to know, was probably one of the most celebrated fashion photographers in the world, taking pictures of the Royal Family, the Beatles, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones and Audrey Hepburn to name just a few. He also worked for all the top fashion magazines of the time such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Town and Country. He was and still is, a legend in the industry.

With Parkinson, she spent 3 years getting involved in absolutely everything from organising diaries and answering the phone to travelling all over the world organising fashion photography shoots with celebrities and models. The contacts she made through this role were exceptional and it allowed her to build a network of people who would support her throughout her career. From this role she went on to work for Vogue, working in styling, editorial and fashion shoots followed by being involved in the start-up and launch of a new magazine, Easy Living. In 2013 she was approached to be involved in the marketing and recruitment for Conde Nast College of Fashion and Design and she hasn’t looked back since.

The industry is fast paced and constantly evolving. Huge areas of growth currently include digital marketing and social media as well as sustainability and eco-friendly fashion. Fashion is not just about design and creativity – it is about a vast number of people involved in roles such as studio managers, press officers, events co-ordinators, silica media influencers, data analysts, copywriters, photographers, sound and lighting engineers, accountants and many,  many more. She talked about standing out, being unique and not being afraid to suggest/ask. If you are serious about the profession then organise a fashion show, get work experience, write for the school magazine, start a fashion blog, create a portfolio of ideas, visit exhibitions, take a relevant course and sign up to attend fashion shows. When it comes to looking for work experience, write a list of the ten brands you would like to work with and call them. Calling is always better as emails get forgotten and if a company says no, call them again in a couple of months! Be persistent and tenacious.

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