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Blanche Macdonald

Grad Success


ONE TO WATCH: FASHION MARKETING GRADUATE JENA HIRSCH INTERNS AS MAISON MARGIELA'S COUTURE PRESS INTERN

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Dedicated, determined and fierce Blanche Macdonald graduate Jena Hirsch took one step out our doors after graduating from our Fashion Marketing program and was swept away by the alluring tide of the fashion world across the pond. But to where exactly? Paris! For what? A dream internship in the illustrious atelier of Maison Margiela as their Artisanal (couture) press intern. Despite speaking basically no French, Jena has immersed herself in a new, beautiful dream world filled with couture, baguettes, endless Uber trips and of course, their show in Paris Fashion Week. And yes, she met John Galliano!

Blanche Macdonald Centre: First things first - we heard you met John Galliano! Tell us everything.

Jena Hirsch: I did! It’s such a small company that all the teams work together often.  The one time we had a conversation, it was about one of the looks coming back from a shoot damaged so it was both terrifying and exciting that he knew my name! My main interactions with him and his team were when they would hand select things for a shoot.  They would need different pieces and I would bring the looks to them because it was my responsibility to know who had them and where the items were.  

BMC: So amazing! And what was it like working their fashion show?

JH: That’s when things got super busy! There were days I was there for 12 hours and I worked a couple weekends as well. This year was particularly hectic because the show was held at the Margiela headquarters. It was a fairly last minute change of plans so pretty much overnight the headquarters needed to be turned into a runway. It was so beautiful! They recreated John Galliano’s office and had such a gorgeous white space.  My job at the show was to sign in guests as they arrived and show them to their seats.  This meant I got to greet a lot of celebrities and bloggers that I admire and even have an extended chat with people when they had questions.

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BMC: So once the show was done - where did that leave you?

JH: After the show was when the real hard work for me began.  What happens in the press department after the show is all the major magazines want looks to shoot for their upcoming issues.  That means that press has to organize who gets what, and when.  Magazines all want similar looks and all these shoots happen within a few days after the show. My job was to take all the looks and make sure they got everywhere on time and intact.  It was probably one of the most stressful weeks of my life. There was one day where one particular look needed to be at four different shoots in one day.  My job for the day was to take it around to the different shoots in an Uber.  It was super fun to hang out on set and see how the process worked! The locations ranged from an apartment, a studio, or a fancy hotel - you never know where! It was fun to see the industry from that side of things, especially when the looks were being sent to celebrities or their stylists!

BMC: That’s a lot of responsibility! OK so special events aside, tell us what a typical day was like for you in the Margiela offices!

JH: There was no typical day, and I mean that in the best way possible! My official main job and the reason I was hired was to be the Artisanal press intern.  So once I was finished with archiving, there wasn’t a lot of activity in the Artisanal department until the fashion show.  So for the next few weeks I worked with the other interns to return samples from photoshoots for the men’s department and MM6 (their diffusion line). My first day working there I had to organize and account for all the pieces in the SS17 Artisanal (couture) collection so that they could be archived and the showroom could be readied for the next Artisanal show’s looks. I was super excited to see all these pieces in person - it was definitely surreal!

BMC: That sounds like a dream! How did you find this opportunity?

JH: I first saw the internship in a post on [Blanche Macdonald’s Fashion Career Director] Mel [Watts]’s Facebook Career page.  After that I made an appointment with her and she set me up with the Paris internship program director, Stefan. He called me and answered all my questions.  Stefan was really helpful but Mel reassured me as well. I fully trusted that Mel understood where I wanted to go in my career. Contacts and references are so important when getting a job or internship in fashion so having her help, plus my schooling at Blanche was super helpful!

BMC: Mel does have some amazing connections! Was there any class knowledge that helped you during your internship?

JH: It was super helpful to know about brands and designer history, all things I learned in [Fashion Program Director] Peggy [Morrison]’s Fashion Awareness classes!  Having done a project on Margiela and John Galliano just a month before my internship really helped me feel like I was educated and knew the brand, as well as the looks I essentially had to be responsible for.

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BMC: Peggy’s classes are the best! Did you have a favourite instructor or class at Blanche Macdonald?

JH: I honestly loved all of the instructors at Blanche! They all had such different experiences to bring to the table so it was super helpful. I definitely loved the styling photoshoot in [instructor] Lyndi [Barrett]’s class though. To be honest, I don’t think I could pick a favourite because they have all kind of merged together for me. Everything is so linked and really helps you understand the fashion industry.

BMC: So now that you have your education and some work experience in the fashion industry, did you get some insight as to the career path you’d like to follow after your internship at Margiela?

JH: 100% yes.  It was unimaginably helpful.  I felt like before Margiela the fashion world was just this mythical land that existed externally from my life.  I admired it as an art form and a business but didn’t feel I would ever be a part of it in the way I wanted to.  Working at Margiela allowed me to take an industry I had only learned about and actually be part of it. It allowed me to see how all the different departments of fashion work together and who does what.  

BMC: That’s amazing! So now that you’ve spent some serious time in Paris, what does it mean to you?

JH: Diversity.  Almost everyone I have met here is international and they are all so open to new experiences.  I love it.

BMC: Can you share some of your favourite Parisian spots?

JH: Of course! 1) Bakeries. I swear there are at least three “boulangerie” signs just on my two minute walk to the metro. Who doesn’t love pastries?!

2) Any terrace ever.  There is nothing more Parisian than coffee on a terrace.

3) McDonald’s.  I am ashamed to admit it because I have never been a McDonald’s person, but it is such a thing here!  It’s one of the only places you can get a coffee to go, and I need my java on the metro!

4) Drinks by the Seine (or on a rooftop bar or boat). You can drink anywhere in France, meaning you can grab a 3 dollar bottle of wine, head to the river and hang out and watch the sunset!

5) Picnics.  You can grab cheese and bread from a local carrefour and spend a lazy Saturday in the Luxembourg Gardens or under the Eiffel Tower.  There is nothing more French than people walking around with a baguette in their bag.  They wear carbs like an accessory here, I swear!

So yeah, all my answers involved food … Shocker!

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BMC: Well, who doesn’t love food!? Did you have an inner motto that you worked / lived by when you were in Paris?

JH: I had two because I really had to stay motivated and focused. One was “Make the most of this experience and be grateful you are here.”

My other motto in general was “Don’t get comfortable.”  It’s easy to get used to things and settle into a routine.  I really decided that the second things started to feel normal or comfortable it was time to change it up and try something new again.  That was how I was going to make the most of my experiences, by pushing myself out of my comfort zone.  It worked great and is definitely a life motto for me now!

BMC: On a scale of one to ten, what was your French when you left and what is it now?

JH: Literally 0 out of 10 when I arrived -  I didn’t know a word! I’m still a beginner but I can understand WAY more than when I first got here.

BMC: What was the first French phrase you learned?

JH: “Can I have…. (Insert delicious French food here)?”

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BMC: But, of course! Your internship is done but you’re still in Europe! What’s up next for you?

JH: Currently, I am learning French! It’s fairly necessary to have multiple languages if you want to work in fashion in Europe.  Most people can speak English, but French is just such an asset especially for your social and everyday life in France.  I would love to stay in Paris or Europe in general but I’m really not sure where I’ll be next - I’m keeping my options open.  I do get homesick sometimes!

BMC: Well that’s only natural! Is there one glittering moment that stands out to you from your time in Paris so far as the definitive moment?

JH: There wasn’t just one moment that stood out! There were so many amazing moments in and outside of work. Some huge ones for me were my first day walking up to the Margiela offices, going to music festivals with my friends, spending days out and about in the city, fashion week and so many more. Experiencing Paris in general has been a dream!



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