Interning at NYFW: One First-Year’s Experience

by Emma Kenny-Pessia

One of the quintessential NYC events is the famed New York Fashion Week. Held in February and September each year, designers flock to NYFW to show off their seasonal collections to buyers, the press, and the general public. NYFW is known as the most prominent fashion week in the world (followed by London FW, Milan FW, and Paris FW) and is attended by the fashion world’s elite – from the poker-faced Vogue editrix Anna Wintour, to world-renowned brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Herve Leger, to … Barnard first-year Hannah Yoo? As any Barnard student will tell you, one of the best parts about going here is being able to take advantage of the wealth of opportunities that New York City has to offer. “Unique New York” isn’t just a tongue-twister – having only been here for a month, I have already had so many experiences that could only have happened in a city like New York.

Hannah certainly had what many would consider an atypical first semester of college. In between the mandatory Barnard NSOP (New Student Orientation Program) events, Hannah was interning for Vivienne Hu, a New York-based designer whose designs have been featured in various fashion magazines like Elle, Bazaar, Art and Designs, and Elegant. She has held this dream-worthy internship since early August, and was responsible for organizing swatches for Vivienne’s sketches, creating personalized invitations for over 300 guests, assisting in model casting and creating the model line-up for the show, taking pictures for social media updates, and sewing Swarovski crystals on the clothing (!!) as part of Vivienne Hu’s partnership with the Swarovski collective.

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Some behind-the-scenes snaps from the Vivienne Hu show, feat. Hannah posing with Vivienne herself!

Hannah describes receiving the clothing for the fashion show along with “more Swarovski crystals than [they] knew what to do with.” Once Vivienne Hu had approved all the crystal designs, Hannah began sewing on these crystals one-by-one. The dress pictured below was the finale outfit for the show, featuring hand-sewn crystals by Barnard’s own Hannah Yoo. “It was surreal to see the dress that I had worked on for hours come to life. It was one of the best experiences of my life.”

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The finale outfit from Vivienne Hu’s show

Besides Vivienne Hu’s show, Hannah also attended Nanette Lepore’s show last fall, and Libertine’s show this year. Though she really loved Vivienne Hu’s show, she says that Libertine’s clothing and “vibe” is definitely more of her style. She loves the “vibrant colors, interesting patches and eccentric designs of his line,” and describes Libertine’s clothing as “one of the most unique lines of wearable art” that she had ever seen.

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Some of Hannah’s snaps from Libertine’s show

I know that it’s one of the most convoluted questions, but I couldn’t help but ask: “how would you describe your personal style?” Hannah says that she doesn’t completely know how to describe her personal style, but admits that she has a soft-spot for autumn fashion, naming knee high socks, button-up shirts, boyfriend jeans, scarves, plaid prints, and big sweaters as a few of her favorites (along with pumpkin donuts and Halloween-movie-marathons, and who could argue with that?). Spoken like a true fashion mogul (and bold, beautiful Barnard woman), Hannah says that “fashion is considered an art: there’s no rules, no standards, it’s fit for everyone, and characterized by the way we live and the way we think and a means of personal expression. I wear what makes me feel good and confident and I think that’s what is really important when it comes to personal style.” She cites one of her favorite quotes by fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent: “Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it.”

When she isn’t busy interning for Vivienne Hu or Tote Mag (a fashion magazine designed for college students), Hannah is busy on campus with a few clubs, acting as Barnard’s First-Year Class Secretary, writing posts on her personal blog (www.hannahsyoo.com), and working as the assistant costume designer for Columbia Musical Theatre Society’s Evita (see it on November 21st and 22nd!!). As to what she wants to study, Hannah says that she is thinking about doing a dual degree with economics and mathematics. However, she’s keeping her options open because she (like many Barnard students) believes that it’s entirely possible to unexpectedly fall in love with a subject. No matter what she studies, she is eager to learn as much as she can in these next four years, and knows that she definitely wants fashion to be a part of her life in one way or another.

Finally, I asked her if there was anything else she wanted the readers of the Nine Ways of Knowing blog to know. Her response speaks for itself: “I love meeting new people, so if you’re reading this and want to know more about my experiences at NYFW or cry about how Jim Halpert from The Office is goals or just get Pinkberry or bubble tea, I’m your gal.”

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A big thanks to Hannah for letting me interview her and use pictures from her blog in this post! Check it out at hannahsyoo.com.

Emma Kenny-Pessia is a first-year at Barnard and a Staff Writer for the Nine Ways of Knowing. 

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