Nov 1, 2016

Fashion Coaching and the City - Episode 1: Dubai

Fashion Coaching & The City
Episode 1: Dubai

So I was at Incheon Airport, my new Fendi bag strapped on my shoulder, a purple suitcase, and a laptop bag. Everything was there, all except for my passport. Things were turning into a nightmare quick.

“Hello, hey! Mr. Lee! Yes, I am here. I need your help! I have to be in Dubai for my training by Monday as you know. But… I uhm… I forgot my passport. My plane is leaving in half an hour. What to do?!”

* * *

Mr. Lee totally saved my ass. I had to go back home and fly out the next day. I felt like such a fool. The most promising moment of my life as an image consultant trainee, and of course, I have to leave my passport at home! On my dresser! *Typical!*

Well, I am now in Dubai, waiting for my trainer, the Stella Huntington at the Address Downtown Hotel lobby. I felt like I was starring in my own version of “The Devil Wears Prada.” Except that I was in Dubai, not New York City. And except that Anne Hathaway was a fresh out of college intern, and I was well, a seasoned not-yet-40-year-old fashion addict. But you get my sentiment. Ms. Huntington was someone I had been eyeing for years and years. Of all the fashion systems out there, hers had the most elite styling, the most impeccable taste level. I was her fan.

“Ms. Ahn? Am I pronouncing it correctly?”

I looked up.

She was here. Right before my eyes. My dreams were just taking flesh. I was doing it. Living my own dream. She led me to the elevator and showed me into the suite. Two students were there. One who looked younger than me, a mid-twenties girl from India. And a lady who seemed older than me, who had her own company from Jeddah. The fourth student never materialized. So it began.

* * *

The whole Dubai training experience was like a dream for me. I don’t know how many images I had collected and saved in my hard drive from Stella’s website and Facebook page album. The ladies that I envied who were taking her class, were photographed in a hotel suite just like the one I was sitting in. There was a lot of magazine cut out exercises that helped us hone our eyes on color and style. The last portion of our training brought us to the shopping mall for a complete ‘field experience.’

We used one another as our ‘fashion guinea pigs’ and interviewed each other, taking turns. The most challenging part of the training was shopping for each other. Each of us had very distinct and individual way of dressing, so trying to find the clothes that felt right for our partner was not as easy as we would have liked! But with repetition, we got better.

By far the most magical moment was when our guru took us to Zara and showed us how to create a Capsule Wardrobe. She was a genius at putting a complete set of clothes that worked well together. I had seen her do this on video from some of her online courses, but seeing her do it on location, right in front of us had a kind of immediacy and magic about it.

Working on that part of my training is where all of the previous cut out magazine work paid off too. I felt so alive, almost like a spy, taking in clothes to form a capsule into the changing room, then hanging the collection on the wall, snapping a photo. Then, sending it in to get reviewed by Stella.

Stella surprised me with a gift too. We were at the Dubai Mall, on our last day of training. I was the only one there that day, and she pointed out a Zara dress that had a black background with floral designs on it. It was the perfect ‘grown up version’ of the white floral day dress I was wearing. If I were taller and had the figure for it, I would have resembled Maggie Cheung in “In The Mood for Love.”

Dubai is where I took my first steps as an image consultant. I coined a moment to memory when I found myself alone underneath the Dior installations. White feathers, millions of them hanging from the glass ceiling… strung on clear wires, gently swaying to the movement of air… I closed my eyes and programmed my mind. Some day, I will be back here…

Back in Seoul, Jessica Ahn

Instagram ::: Hepburn School