My birthday present from Aunt G was her buying me some tickets to Vogue Festival without telling me. When she finally did send an email while i was still in Malaysia, i was squealing in public when i saw whose talks she got us to attend – Paul Smith with Alexa Chung, Mario Testino, and Donatella Versace!
She couldn’t have picked better personalities for the talks – i LOVE Paul Smith, especially after i read his illustrated biography; i’ve always admired Alexa Chung; Mario Testino is one of my favourite photographers thanks to his long-term stint at Vogue; and Donatella Versace is so iconic, it’d be a treat to see what she’s got to say and is like IRL.
The festival was held all day last weekend and focused on 45-minute talks given by the most luminary individuals in the fashion industry. Besides the talks i went to, there were also sessions including Michael Kors, Vivienne Westwood, Tamara Mellon, Alber Elbaz, Victoria Beckham, Anna Dello Russo, and many many more.
There was a constantly long queue for this Vogue cover shoot activity where girls got made up, dressed up and had their ‘front cover’ printed out. I’m not one for queues and am not feeling particularly pretty thanks to my allergy so… XD
Tickets are not cheap – entry to one talk is £40!
Sir Paul Smith was so funny (as i anticipated, cos his books are so entertaining and crazy!) and Alexa is certainly very charming. She’s also really skinny IRL, i always thought she had a bit more meat on her (in a nice way) in her pictures.
Paul Smith showed us a quick but interesting presentation on photographs he took at the market or on travels, and how he uses the colour palettes on any subject he likes to convert into current collections. He spoke real simply while changing slides, “Beach house… Collection! Flowers at market… Collection!” He’s so adorable, i love him!
He talked about how designing is a job for him, but a job that he loves and feels so grateful to have. Yet, it’s still a job so you cannot always do things your way without thinking of the business side of things. He mentioned something about a 5-2 balance, on how he does proper business work 5 days a week, and then more creative stuff that’s for himself 2 days a week. He doesn’t get a day off basically, cos he’s working all the time!
Pointers to remember on how to create a successful brand.
Paul admitted to not being very tech-savvy despite having social media accounts. He doesn’t have a mobile phone or even a computer at home, but did interject how he has four main assistants (besides 200+ other people who do things for him). Haha cheeky. He even tried to show Alexa his underwear pattern but she asked him to put it back in.
Another thing i thought very sweet was how he said his wife has been his inspiration for decades.
Crowd leaving the show
On Sunday we attended two talks
Mario Testino shared about how at one point he was quite broke and was living in a hospital, then he told us about how he started work in the industry, and ended up as photographer for Vogue. He did add that he changed his style a little bit to adapt to the American audience else he’d not be doing his job shrewdly as a photographer.
The most outstanding lesson i took home from his session, was what he said about finding out who you are. He was asked how he thought he ended up so successful as a photographer, and he said that we should all work towards finding out who EACH of us are inside. He said not to emulate what other people are doing/their style, but to do what you can do as yourself best.
Which i thought was so true and we all needed some reminding – that nobody can be us best except ourselves.
Took some style shots in between talks >
Love her choice of shoes, from Prada.
The last talk for the festival was Donatella Versace. I tell you, the moment she walked on stage, you could feel the air go BOOM and everyone was leaning forward in their seats to get a better look. She exuded so much interest and energy it was incredible to see.
She’s really freaking skinny too, but does say she works out 3-4 times a week. Alexandra Shulman was trying to get Donatella to tell her what she wore when she chills out but just couldn’t get her to say anything besides her tight pants and sleek jackets.
Alexandra: “What do you wear when you watch TV at home?”
Donatella: “This.” *gestures to what she was wearing then*
Everyone burst out laughing cos it took so long to come to that!
Donatella talked about how she took the reigns at Versace after her brother Gianni was assassinated. People were curious as to how she managed to propel her family’s legacy after such a tragedy. Donatella said that she had to put on a hard front when going to work, cos everyone in Versace wondered whether the company was going to collapse or stop or what, so she had to do that to show everyone that everything was going to be okay; but said she would cry in private at home. Damn what a woman! Major respect.
What i really liked about Donatella was how you could obviously see that she wasn’t pretending to be someone else other than herself… her mannerisms, the way she kept flipping her hair, her distaste for flat shoes… you could see and hear that this was absolutely the PERSON she IS.
I think she’s awesome, but i’m definitely not going to pretend to love high heels 24/7, or always have my make up on like her!
Which is a reflection of what i took home from attending these talks… they all seem to have a concurrent theme:
– Be yourself. Find out who you are. And be the best person you were made to be.
– Work hard. No shortcut around it. If you’re very sure your career is to be on a certain path, then run it as best and fast as you possibly and physically can.
– Always reinvent yourself. If you stay the same in terms of style or work, then you’ll just end up being a thing of the past.
– Be nice. We’re all still human at the end of the day, and even tho we might be a hardheaded perfectionist, that doesn’t mean one can’t be nice in other situations.
Hope you gleaned something from my sharing! XXX
You can read more in-depth articles on Vogue Festival *HERE*