I was only twelve and trapped on puberty drama the first time a Vogue issue fell into my hands.
Since then, the magazine and I were involved in a long-term relationship: we dated, we broke up and as time went by, we came to terms. In case you wonder, we enjoy a healthy friendship now — the sort you have with your oldest school days comrades.
But leaving romantic metaphors aside, the truth is that the publication has been present for most of my adult life. Once I matured, I shared my attention with other mags: Vanity Fair and The New Yorker started catching my eye, since my interests fluctuate from fashion to arts and literature, and their editorial line is designed accordingly. However, Condé Nast was always the benchmark for me, no matter what. Some of their best articles live on a special folder on my laptop, where I can come back to them for reference.
A few months ago, already involved in my current blog project, I discovered that Condé Nast College was offering a wide range of new courses, including intensive seminars for fashion writers. The point is, I had been considering to extend my formal education on creative writing with some specialization on journalism and this looked pretty much like the perfect opportunity. So, I finally reunited the courage to enroll and booked tickets for London in April. (Or so I like to repeat myself because the truth is that I panicked, decided to go ahead, and panicked again before I really booked my place in the seminars. Performance anxiety anyone?)
But let’s focus on the essential: How was to study in such a celebrated editorial institution? What about visiting Vogue House? In short? It was a blast. That’s it. You can now click away (just joking). But let me tell you the story from the beginning.
The first day of classes, I arrived early and the staff kindly proceeded with my registration. The building is located in the heart of Soho which made it really easy to find it (even if, like me, you are awful at Googlemaps skills…), as well as convenient in terms of commuting options. I would love to provide you with some more details on my first impression of the place but I was so nervous I can’t even remember whether it was sunny or gloomy.
Afterwards, I was given a tote bag containing the latest Vogue issue, pens (in case I wanted to write notes), and some mineral water, which was very kind of them. Then, all the students were introduced in the main conference room for the welcome and orientation chat. It was nice to see that everything was organized in a timely manner.
The first thing that caught my attention was the incredible international environment: I had the privilege to share the classes with a great group of people from the most diverse countries: Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Turkey, Switzerland, The Emirates… Everywhere. I feel this was one of the most enriching factors from the whole experience since it allows you to have a glimpse of other cultures and perceptions by sharing a genuine passion.
After the introduction discussion, we proceeded with the first journalism lecture, mainly focused on providing basic notions. To be completely honest, I should point out that my personal interests lay in practical classes and creative writing seminars. Hence, maybe this first session was not my favourite one. I am quite sure other students found it relevant and useful, though.
However, the best part was to arrive on the second day. Early in the morning, we enjoyed a very useful seminar with the Philippa Morgan, Planning Editor at Vogue International. Listening to someone who can provide you with some serious insights into the industry is probably one of the most awesome things that can happen to you.
But this wasn’t the only highlight of the day: after lunch, we were kindly invited for a group visit to Vogue House at Hanover Square. Our group was welcome to the press room, where we could listen to specialists in the different departments, instructing us on a variety of topics, from copywriting to edition, and from photography to production. It was truly informative as a whole, and it was inspiring to hear that many of the professionals in this editorial group made it through effort and will power. After a good hour of chatting, questions, and comments, we left the place. The only part I missed from the whole experience as a writer was the chance to have a glimpse of the editorial department since I was truly interested in seeing the work-flux on a normal working day. Nevertheless, I understand the staff must be very busy on a daily basis to attend students, so I was OK with that.
The next few days were a bit of a whirlwind constituted by master classes, creative writing workshops and even more importantly, specialized human resources advice which provided a unique glance on what skills and profiles are frequently targeted by the industry.
We engaged in some group projects as well, working for long hours in the amazing library. In there, we could enjoy the read of hundreds of books dedicated to the story of Haute Couture, as well as getting access to an unlimited number of magazine issues from their archive. I only wish I could have spent some months there, feeding my curiosity with all of that wonderful bibliography. But, oh alas, time passes by quickly when you are having a good time, and before I realized it was Friday and our final project was delivered on time for the closure session.
As a sum-up I would say the seminars were the most interesting part (especially those about conducting interviews, creative ideas development and catwalk reviews writing, which I found truly specific and helpful). Teachers were nothing but brilliant and they assisted us with feedback and advice at all times.
But as much as I learned from the whole academic experience, I would say that my favourite part was to be able to make new acquaintances and contacts from all around the world. After all, I was expecting to wide my perspective and that is simply the best way to do so, isn’t it?