Standing in front of 54 Park Street, at 8am, on a fresh, chilly Monday morning, reminded me of Holly Golightly – who stood in front of Tiffany’s, admiring her favourite jewels.
Both of us were looking at our favourite buildings. Both of us were cupping warm take-away cups of piping hot cappuccinos. Both of us were wearing black sunnies (even in the shade).
The only difference was that she couldn’t enter her dream building… but I could. And I did.
For those who read my last post and followed my tweets would know that I was the work experience girl at Madison magazine in Sydney, last week. It was a dreamy week. I didn’t wake up in the morning feeling like my world was ending. I didn’t have a grumpy afternoon. And I went to bed with a big smile.
I thought arriving early at your job is always a good sign. But how early is too early? I was an hour early – is that bad? Well, obviously. The security guard looked at me, strangely, and asked me to get another coffee – because I wasn’t getting through those glass doors before 9.30am. This is what you get for being too keen – what a great start!
When I finally got to swipe my card and enter the wonderful world of ACP – it felt amazing. It felt like I belonged to that place. Except the bold prints of my “VISITOR” pass, were strongly disagreeing.
I had imagined a HUGE office with high-heeled, caked-faced and high-end designer-label-screaming bodies walking everywhere. And what I saw, on that morning, was a complete opposite of my media-driven illusion.
Everyone in the non-magazine world has been convinced by innumerable mainstream movies and TV shows that every ‘fashion magazine office’ is deluged with arrogant and hungry fashion journalists who stomp their six-inch heels into the office and yell at every possible living being. This offensive stereotype is not just unachievable but extremely fictional.
And the Madison Editorial office proved that to me.
The office is located on level 11 of the ACP head office. It has a very cute, organised and stylish vibe to it. The gigantic “m” logo, at the front desk, screams branding and is an intimidating reminder of where you are. The first thing you notice are the beautiful editorials stuck on every window pane and bare wall.
You know you are in the fashion department (which only comprises of three lovely ladies) when you see a big stack of international magazines on the desks, and flat ballerinas hidden under the desks.
The floral scents, shimmery lipstick pallets and TONS of goody bags reinforce the fact that you are in the beauty department. It is a product-slaves’ heaven. It is a tug of war between Chanel, Benefit, Thierry Mugler and Revlon – everyone is fighting for a spot on the desk.
The arts department is oozing out with huge A3-white sheets with sample prints and layouts for the next issue. The intelligent cubicle of talented feature writers cannot be missed. And that is because it is right next to the office of the boss.
The boss – the editor – Elizabeth Renkert.
Overlooking the luscious green Hyde Park, the antique church and the infamous Coca-Cola sign – Lizzie’s office has a personality. The minimalistic and white furniture compliments the bright and glamourous past-front covers of the magazine. It smelt like an editor’s office; humble, fruity, musky and stylish scent filled the air.
Behind a bare white door, with an average looking doorknob was a world of fashion dreams. It was Madison’s fashion cupboard. I only got to enter the clothing heaven once – to hang a delivery for an editorial – but it looked like something to die for. It wasn’t as big as seen on Sex and the City and Devil Wears Prada – but it was bigger than my closet, for sure.
One of the daily errands was to deliver the beautifully wrapped presents and well-written press releases to the desks of the Fashion and Beauty editors.
And the office that won the prize for accommodating the most products was that of the Beauty and Living Director, Stephanie Darling.
Her cluttered office, full of products and sample bags would be every girl’s dream location – but for Stephanie – all of them were screaming deadlines. For her, it wouldn’t be Chloe, Chanel, Tom Ford or Clinique; it would be December’s feature, January’s product review and February’s ‘luxe to less’.
I often found myself eavesdropping on the daily tasks and shoots of the fashion department. It was a little hard to catch up with some of the conversation as it was heavily smothered with brand names. I got somewhere between a Lebanon trip, Miu Miu bag, Becker Minty and Toni Maticevski.
It was overwhelming to be present in the same office as other talented women (and two men) who put their heart and soul into producing one of Australia’s top fashion magazines, every month. Being surrounded by such great writers and personalities made me realise that the world of fashion is not glamourous and dumb. Not even close to it. It is smart, intelligent, classy and extremely helpful.
A moment with my Idols
The most exciting aspect of my week was putting a face to all the names I read on the masthead, every month. After delivering letters and parcels to their desks, every day, I had pretty much stamped their faces in the memory chip of my brain.
The Associate Editor, Farrah Butt, and I shared a moment of laughter while we discussed her attempt at wearing contact lenses. This was followed by, me researching for her next feature (which sounds very engrossing, for those interested) and transcribing an interview.
The power of social media justified itself when the Deputy Features Editor, Alexandra Carlton, recognised my name from Twitter – on the very first day. I have never had more fun transcribing an interview, than what I did while doing a 25-minute interview about a beautiful Perth home. I will definitely be on a look out for that particular feature.
On a special request to Sophie, I got to have a nice, long chat with the Beauty Editor, Sherine Youssef, of Madison. Of course, I didn’t regret that decision. Not only was I given tips for my position as the ‘Beauty and Lifestyle Editor’, I also got an insight of what goes into the Beauty pages of the magazine.
I got the opportunity to speak to some of the most talented minds of the magazine.
Who does what. What products are reviewed for what reasons. What events are seriously useless. And what looks are overrated. Whoever said Beauty editors are arrogant and up-themselves – eat your words, please.
I was sitting at a desk, frantically skimming through the health pages of magazines for ‘Mind’ and ‘Body’ news when I heard a subtle voice, “Ummm, hi”. I turned and there she was, my favourite beauty writer, Katrina Lawrence.
Kat has been in the gloss industry for years and I have been admiring her beautiful writing style since I held my first ever Australian magazine. After moving from her table and sitting on the one next to her, I decided to break the ice and introduce myself.
I was also fortunate enough to make a fool out of myself within the first 10-minutes of my presence in the office. The minute, the boss walked in, I could feel my smile widening from “I-am-comfortable-here” to “Oh-my-God-it-is-Lizzy-Renkert”.
This was followed by a lovely, long chat with the talented lady about her work, my aspirations and our mutual acquaintances. The conversation ended with Kat telling me, “I hope to see your name around. It is a very distinctive name, I won’t be forgetting it!”
She’s looking at me and smiling.
My instant reaction, “Hi, I’m Shitika”.
She’s still smiling and walking, “I’m Lizzy!”
I can see the words vomit out of my mouth – “Oh! I know”.
I will give you 2-minutes to stop laughing. That is all.
Every day I delivered her packages, letters and newspaper on her desk, and I made sure I had my “I-am-comfortable-here” smile. I promise, I did. Like every work experience girl, I really wanted to enter her office and speak to her. I wanted my very own – Lizzie time!
And on the last day, I got it. With a big beam on my face and a thumping heart – I entered the beautiful interiors of Lizzie’s office and spoke to her for a satisfying amount of time.
The past week has been like living a dream. I remember being 16, reading Cleo and dreaming about working in a world surrounded by such glamour. That was a teenage dream.
Today, it means the world to me. I didn’t want to be there because I wanted to see a celebrity or scab some free products from the Beauty cupboard. I was there to be surrounded by inspiring people with beautiful success stories. I wanted to breathe magazine air. I wanted to see what goes behind the production of Madison.
And I got it all.
I have never valued photocopying more than I did last week. One day, I was Google searching celebrity wisdom quotes and the other, I was searching for the brand of Kylie Minogue’s shoes on the September issue cover.
After several reader requests, transcriptions, mail orders and dock runs – I am even more than ready for my future. I am ready to take on the wacky and wonderful world of glossy magazines.
Note: Thank you to everyone who I shared an elevator ride with and had ranting-coffee sessions at the ACP office. Thank you Sophie for giving me all the wonderful tasks. It was lovely working under you.
Image Credit 1. 2. 3.