By: Aaron Royce
Though the best way to learn about a field is through in-person experience, that’s not the reality for most fashion and journalism students right now. Showing your understanding, knowledge, and respect for previous members of your chosen industry, in addition to fieldwork, can be the key to your future career!
No field is as uniquely structured as fashion, which we know all too well at Making it in Manhattan. Many editors have a variety of beginnings and career paths to get to their renowned positions today—or pivot their careers from the magazine world entirely. As internships and jobs change formats, and titles shutter or go fully-digital, the best way to prepare for the future is to look to the past. Even though you can’t DM most prestigious editors, some of their best advice is found in the pages of their books. These memoirs, autobiographies, and novels provide a glimpse into the history of the magazine industry’s biggest names—and how titles operate on the other side of that glossy door. Whether you’re pursuing an editorial career in fashion or beauty, these are the best books to read to understand how editors’ roles have changed—and what it means to be one today.
GRACE: A MEMOIR
Written by the one and only Grace Coddington, alumna of American Vogue, this autobiography dives into her career path from model to editor starting in the mid-1900s. Expect an abundance of stunning photographs and Coddington’s signature sketches as she details her revolutionary journey within the magazine industry.
THE VOGUE FACTOR
Learning about international magazines is just as valuable as your national titles. Kirstie Clements, who began as an assistant at Australian Vogue in 1985, details her career rise from assistant to editor-in-chief in this memoir. From international Fashion Weeks to shooting Denmark royalty, this memoir details the vast experiences one hardworking person can have on their editorial journey in the pre- and post-digital editorial world.
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
Everyone knows about the namesake film, but let’s recap. This sensational story actually began when the ex-assistant to one of the fashion world’s most famous editors published a partially-fictionalized account of her time at Vogue several years prior. Filled with juicy, detailed gossip about the inner workings of a major magazine, fashion do’s and don’ts, and navigating the editorial world at the start of the century, this is essential reading for any fashionista.
FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE
Jean Godfrey-June, now the beauty director at Goop, wrote this memoir to showcase the unique-and sometimes excessive-world of beauty from her ex-tomboy perspective. Detailing June’s time writing for Elle to becoming EIC at the now-defunct Lucky magazine, this memoir covers everything from secret beauty sales and awkward interviews to attending global fashion shows. Packed with humor and tons of useful work and beauty tips, this book provides deep insight into the role of an editor.
HOW TO MURDER YOUR LIFE
This is a partial companion to Free Gift with Purchase and makes for a fascinating standalone read. Cat Marnell recounts her magazine career, from interning at Conde Nast in the mid-aughts to becoming a writer and editor at Lucky, XoJane, and Vice—and the lessons she’s learned along the way. Filled with hilarious accounts of Marnell’s party-girl lifestyle and stirring stories of her personal battles, this peels back the industry’s glamour to show the reality of being an ambitious lifestyle journalist during the Recession era.
TALES FROM THE BACK ROW
This witty memoir comes from ex-Cosmopolitan.com editor Amy Odell, who got her big break writing for New York magazine’s fashion blog, The Cut. Many in the industry revere The Cut as the first site to focus on the Internet’s bloggers and street style scene—which Odell pioneered. Odell’s love of fashion is seen throughout the book, whether she’s interviewing models at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, attending NYFW, or meeting with Anna Wintour. Truly showing an “outsider’s” perspective as the digital age of fashion was beginning, Odell’s essays prove that it takes hard work to make it in the fashion industry.
MAKING IT IN MANHATTAN
Of course, we saved the best for last! Making it in Manhattan is the namesake book by our site’s editor and founder, Caroline Vazzana, where Caroline shares her career path from intern to editor—and now fashion influencer. From finding your first internship to getting into Fashion Week shows and discovering your personal brand, this is your one-stop-read for everything related to the fashion industry. Especially if you’re figuring out your career path, Caroline’s advice and inspiring stories are your ultimate guide to “making it!”
This post originally appeared on MakingManhattan.com.
Follow Making Manhattan on Instagram @MakingManhattanOfficial
The founder of Making Manhattan, Caroline Vazzana, is a fashion writer, editor, and stylist living and working in her hometown of New York. She’s worked for Anna Sui, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and InStyle. She has collaborated with designers including Betsey Johnson and Diane Von Furstenberg, and has styled celebrities for various red carpets like the MTV Video Music Awards and Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. Caroline is currently the Founder & Creative Director of MakingManhattan.com where she hopes to shed light on the industry to the future fashion generation. Make sure to follow her everywhere @cvazzana for an inside look into her day to day in NYC.
Photo Credit: The Select 7