Since long before The Devil Wears Prada was even a collection of words with coherent meaning, swathes of young, stylish job hopefuls dreamed of working for a fashion mag! One real-life case of landing the highly-idolised gig, is that of Gemma Keil, the current Fashion Editor of Stellar Magazine – the highest circulation glossy on the Eastern seaboard!
This Sydney-based go-getter’s trajectory into the world of fashion is anything but typical, and today she shares her story – from taping heels as a Melbourne Fashion Festival intern, to riding the wave of Dubai’s retail boom, and pursuing her goals with tenacious passion back on home soil.
Here follows a non-Hollywood/Hathaway plot on making it in fashion mags:
The most important verb in the get-your-dream-job lexicon is…
…set your intention. Believe in yourself and don’t give up; you’ll get there, so remember to enjoy the journey while you’re at it too!
I landed this job by…
I’ve had an unusual career trajectory into the magazine world. After finishing a Visual Merchandising degree at RMIT in Melbourne, and having a taste of fashion styling through work experience (the first of which was at Melbourne’s Fashion Festival back in 2005, where I was dressing models and taping lots of shoes!) I moved to Dubai working for a quick stint as cabin crew for Emirates Airlines.
It was in Dubai that I joined an agency and started assisting stylists on my days off. At that time Dubai’s economy was booming and very quickly I was styling my own campaigns, and hung up my crew uniform. (Gladly so, as beige and red are not my colours!) I then took on a role as head stylist for Dubai’s Bloomingdales store, the first to open outside the US. It was here my love and appreciation for fashion really grew, and I learned about trends, forecasting, buying and the luxury fashion world. I moved back to Australia five years later and took on a role as Market Editor at InStyle (Pacific Magazines) which gave me a perfect platform to work with the country’s best creatives, and make amazing pictures.
When I first moved back after living overseas, I decided that Sydney was the best place for me to pursue my styling career. I wrote to every editor under the Australian sun with my portfolio and CV, leaving out that I was based in Melbourne (as most of the titles are in Sydney). Finally after months of knock backs, I got a call for an interview… the very next day. I immediately booked a flight and jumped a plane to Sydney. The interview turned into shooting a freelance story for the magazine, which later turned into my first magazine job – at InStyle!
A typical day for me involves…
An ideal morning for me starts with a jog around Centennial Park, then I try and still my mind by mediating for five minutes or so, followed by breakfast and a strong injection of caffeine, which I shamelessly top up during the day. I get into the office at about 9am and check my schedule, then make a list of priorities.
At a weekly magazine, time is my most valuable resource. I often shoot two stories a week and our talent varies from high-profile celebrities, to models, to television personalities, with each requiring different approaches.
When preparing for a shoot the process will start with moodboarding a concept, then thinking of the right location and team, coming up with set deigns, casting models or getting in touch with the managers of celebrities. Then the mad rush for the clothes begins.
The most rewarding part of my job is…
Holding a new issue of the magazine with your story inside. Seeing your concept come to reality is the best feeling ever.
Another highlight is working with a great team that brings their best on shoot day, to create beautiful work. I also love the travel, which allows me to discover cities all around the world and work with diverse talent and crew.