Yesterday, I started part one of my two part piece on my year in fashion. Although I could delve into just how evil my boss J was or how he was one of the biggest divas I had ever met or how whenever he yelled at me he’d then corner me in the supply closet to “reassure” me that he did actually love me, need me and as he told his wife, supposedly, could never live without me, this isn’t The Devil Wears Prada type of story. No, this one is about P, the fashion designer from hell.
P was relatively new to the fashion world when her capsule collection launched. She had worked with a partner under a chosen name, but the partnership failed and the capsule collection was being marketed with just P’s name alone. Eventually, she’d relaunch the original “house” under which she and her former partner started, but since it was just her, she slightly altered the name.
I’ll be honest, there were perks to working in fashion. Before I walked out of the office that beautiful fall day, my closet, shoe collection and my library of vintage Vogue magazines had expanded. I could say that I not only attended Fashion Week, but actually sat in the front row and met Diane von Furstenberg among others. Of course no one from home cared or even knew what Fashion Week was, but as someone who had briefly flirted with the idea of pursuing fashion design, and as stated, was a whore for fashion magazines, I was starstruck. Granted it wasn’t as fancy as if I had been Anna Wintour‘s assistant, but it was at least a glimpse into a world I had admired for so long.
P was the company’s first foray into capsule collections. Although before the year was out, we’d take on other big names, for the first several months I was there, it was all about P. When she came into the office, she was allowed to smoke, or order mass amounts of food (although I have no idea where she put it) that, nine times out of ten, was prepared incorrectly and had me on the phone pleading with the restaurant to send us the right order. She called the office easily a dozen times a day demanding J stop whatever he was doing and cater to her needs, or she’d just call me to complain about how the company owed her money and no one respected her artistic vision. She was an artist, why couldn’t people see how sensitive she was? How it was her assistant managed to stay with her for a whole six months before not showing up one day is one of life’s great mysteries.
She was also rude to everyone and constantly late. She made a person at the company with whom she was supposed to be working on the capsule collection cry, and the day there was a fire in a subway near her apartment she refused to leave to get to another meeting on time. Why? Because she was fearful the terrorists would get her. I remember trying to explain to her over and over that it was just a freak fire and the car was waiting for her downstairs, but she didn’t believe me. I could hear her sucking on her cigarettes with her teeth chattering as I tried to coax her to get in the car as soon as possible — all while J yelled across the office that if I couldn’t get her in the “fucking car” he was going to blame me.
When she finally got outside she called to tell me that car wasn’t there and I had tricked her. By then she was well over an hour late for her meeting. With the driver on one line and P on the other, and both claiming to be on the same street, I struggled to figure out how the hell to make them see each other. The driver finally spotted her in his rear-view mirror staring uptown. For some reason, it never occurred to P to turn around to look for the car. She also refused to put out her cigarette — a yelling match between she and the driver I heard because she didn’t hang up her phone correctly.
P was fascinating to watch in action. She was only nice when she needed something and actually on one occasion, after dragging out of me how much J was paying, demanded I get a raise for having to deal with him and his “cheap cunt ways.” She did have a way with words that one.
It would be only a few weeks later that I would walk out on J, P and all of it. The beginning of the week had been a blur of Fashion Week fun and parties, but on Tuesday, when J cruelly questioned my intelligence in front of one of my most favorite designers — not P — I grabbed my stuff, told him I was going to Starbucks and never went back. When I called later to give my official resignation, you know, just in case they hadn’t noticed I was gone, J wouldn’t even get on the phone with me. Instead he yelled in the background that I had “abandoned” him and it was unforgivable, as another agent tried to mediate. I chalked it up to an experience I needed and deleted both his number and P’s from my phone — yes, she demanded to have my number in case there was an issue, and of course, there usually was.
A couple years later when I realized I was never going to wear the items from P’s collection, I sold them at the Buffalo Exchange in the East Village. I made $15 off of boots that would have been several hundred dollars retail. I took that fifteen bucks and bought myself a French Vogue and a macaroon. I’ve decided I prefer my fashion in print and not screaming in my face. I’ve also decided I don’t want to feel guilty about what I eat just because of the industry in which I work, but that’s a whole other chapter.