As you most probably know I am currently doing my ERASMUS year in Florence. I studied at the University for the first half (September to January) and then now working for 4 months (March to June) at a Fashion House – Ermanno Scervino.
INTERVIEWS / TRAVEL
First I had an interview over Skype! I was exchanging emails with the HR for a while and then they asked to have this interview! I had about 3 days to prepare, I had absolutely no clue what they would ask me and so I literally prepared every question under the sun and had about a novels amount of vocabulary surrounding me! I had the interview which took around 20 minutes. It went well and she told me that if I was accepted I’d probably have to have a face to face interview at the offices and if I hadn’t then I’d just receive an email. So just under two weeks pass and I got an email saying they wanted to have a second interview at the offices THE NEXT DAY!
So I had to find a way to get to the agency which is about 20 minute taxi drive outside of the city, and about 40 minute bus journey. The bus website is without a doubt the most unhelpful website on earth. So I eventually found my bus, no. 31 to be precise. So I took Millie with me because my sense of direction is beyond shocking and plus with the nerves, it would probably all end in tears! We took the bus and got to a place called Grassina, where I should have taken another bus which stops right outside the agency, however, I was not aware of this….but fortunately my friend who works there said she’d pick us up anyway!!! It was not until I got home to look at the times for second bus that I realised that the hours for that are just horrendous! They basically come every 2 hours and not even slightly around the times that I need(ed) to be at the Agency for!
Nevertheless, travelling mare behind, I had the interview with the Head of Licensing, the HR Specialist and the head designer of the Lingerie Dept. The interview went well, extremely nerve wracking but very good experience!! It was obviously all in Italian, but fortunately they knew I was English and studying Italian and spoke slower! There were times however when the HR woman was explaining what I’d be doing and I had no clue what she was going on about. So I just smiled and nodded. Classic.
I think it was about a week or so that they called and said I would be starting on the 23rd February which was 5 days away! I was expecting to start in March, since they said that they had the Milan show on 28th February and thus it would probably be best for me to start after! Talk about being thrown into the deep end!!!
I then started that Monday, getting the bus to Grassina, nice and easy, but then having to get Taxi’s from the bus stop to the work which is only about 5 minutes away, so it’s not too bad.
My first week was pretty busy, we had a fitting session, so I basically had to dress the model and listen to them speaking extremely fast Italian about what parts they need to alter and so on. I also attended a photoshoot for the Autumn/Winter ’15 look-book. After my first week I was shattered!! I got home on the Friday and I was having my well earned Pizza delivery when my boss called saying they wanted me in Milan the next morning to help out backstage with the show!! The train was at 7:30 in the morning!!!! I nearly cried, of both excitement and fear!
MILAN FASHION WEEK
The joys of the alarm went off at 5:50 and off I went. Train was fine, they’re much nicer than the British ones!! It takes 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to Milan and stops off at Bologna on the way. We arrived at the location, Palazzo Serbelloni, it was so surreal!! There were male models out the front, looking absolutely gorgeous! We entered through the back and there was security everywhere!! Once we got to the backstage part, we just had to sort the clothes and get the rails completely prepared for when we needed to dress the models! There was various press conferences and shoots with the Ermanno Scervino and his brother Toni who also runs the fashion house. We were already behind time, classic Italians, but once it got going, music started – literally felt like I was in a club!! I was assigned to a model called Blanca Padilla, who was lovely and had modelled for D&G and Victoria’s Secret! She had two looks so we had to do the crazily fast change as soon as she got off the runway! Most models have 1 to 2 looks. I was too busy taking photos when she came running in like ‘quick we need to change’! It was so mental! But once we changed she was off and then it was the finale, where all the models go out in their final looks with Scervino. Once all the models had got back backstage there was a huge applause and the show was a great success!! Off the models went and we just had to clear everything up, put the outfits back in plastic bags ready to be sent back to Florence.
It was such a cool experience and something I had always wanted to do, just wasn’t expecting it to be in my first week!
I work Monday to Friday from 9:30 to 18:30, so quite a long day, especially for someone who sat in coffee shops everyday eating Nutella crepes. *sigh*. My day varies really, which is one of
The things I love about working here, obviously there are tasks that I’ve done numerous times but it’s not tiresome. Sometimes I have to sort of pricing of frabrics, work with excel putting in information about the collection, sort out the new collections on the rails and make sure the tags are correct, some days we will have shoots, somedays I just have to display designs for Spring/Summer 2016. It’s all really interesting and I do enjoy it! Although the clothes on the rail are my size which is so torturous because I just want to have it all. Not fair. Especially when I have to sort out the pricing of everything!! Oh well, they’re nice to look at!!
Somedays it is pretty slow, but this kind of works in my favour as I can begin to tackle the mountain of work I have for University at home and do some dissertation reading. Although there’s no doubt that I’d rather be doing dissertation prep with a coffee…and a crepe. Ohhh that rhymes!
Also the one thing that kind of kills the stereotypical Brit in me, is that they don’t do tea in the offices!! I know!! Not great for someone who usually drinks around 5/6 cups of it a day!! But they do have amazing coffee. Obviously. I’ve asked my friends who are visiting to bring me a Starbucks flask so I can take the tea with me!
As I said earlier I’ve done half and half with study and work. I would never have changed this, I am so glad I studied for the first part, since I was able to do the classic ERASMUS stuff, spending every hour in a cafe and basically exploring the city. When you’re working, especially with the hours I do now, you don’t really get a change to fully embrace the city, only at weekends, which just fly by!! So if I was to give you anything it would be to do half and half!! You get the best of both.
I would also say that nothing in Italy seems to be planned ahead of time, so please don’t panic if you’ve started applying to jobs and haven’t heard anything because they’ve most probably seen when you want to work and put you in a pile to look at nearer the time. I would still start applying just to get your name on the system and you never know, you might find and overly organised Italian!! Mine didn’t start gaining momentum until a month before I had my first day!! So just adopt the Italian style and chill!!
Overall, it really fun being able to work in an industry that I’ve always loved and even though I’m not getting paid (cry) it’ll be worth it at the end! I hope!! It was definitely a shock going from doing very little and chilling in coffee shops every day to having to get up at 7:00 and getting back home at 19:00, but I feel like I’m slowly adjusting to it! Sometimes I haven’t got anything to do during the day so I manage to fit in some uni work and dissertation reading!
I am so extremely jealous of you who are preparing for your Year Abroad! I remember my friend Gabriella (who did her ERASMUS year in Florenxe last year) telling me this, and I can so relate now!! I would do anything to start in September again!! It may seem daunting now with all the paperwork but I promise it will be worth it!!
Lots of Florentine love,