A day in the life of a Fashion Assistant

FBI Student Nichhia Wippell

Fashion Assistant | Nicole Warne of Gary Pepper Girl  &
Fashion Assistant | Karla Clarke, Fashion Editor of Harpers BAZAAR

Tell us about yourself, have you always been interested in Fashion?

I grew up on a farm in Queensland and from a young age I actually always thought I would become a Vet; I even did a school based traineeship at a Vet Surgery during high school to gain my certificate in Vet Nursing. I was always interested in fashion and bought Harpers BAZAAR, Vogue and Elle everything month but it wasn’t until I started modelling when I was 15 that I realised how many various jobs and different paths there were within the fashion industry. 

What did you want to do when you first started at FBI Fashion College?

I started at FBI Fashion College with the intention of becoming a stylist. 

Where was your first internship and where have you interned since?

My first internship was at Sass and Bide in 2015, where I interned with the PR & Marketing team. After 6 weeks at Sass and Bide, I went straight to Harpers BAZAAR where I stayed for just over a year. I had my eye on an internship with BAZAAR, so as soon as I heard they were looking for a new intern I applied straight away. 

What was the most valuable thing you learnt whilst at Workplace Training?

The most valuable thing I learned during WPT at BAZAAR was which brands are represented by which PR agency. This is so important for me to know, as I am constantly calling things in for shoots or for Carissa Walford (who I style), so knowing where to go to find things and also where to return them to has been so helpful every singe day!

How did you feel when Karla Clarke, Fashion Editor of Harpers BAZAAR asked you to be her Fashion Assistant?

One afternoon Karla called me into her office one afternoon and started asking me questions about where I see myself in the future within the fashion industry. I had been interning for about 8 months at this point, and was one of the senior interns so I had started doing extra days in the hope that I would be able to learn as much as possible and potentially find a job. When Karla told me she wanted me to start going on more shoots and also work as her freelance assistant, I was so ecstatic. I had already admired Karla’s work for quite some time, so to hear that she thought I had potential to make a great assistant and stylist, it really meant so much to me and inspired me to set myself some goals, and work as hard as necessary to achieve those. 

What do you think made you stand out as an intern at Harpers BAZAAR and how long had you been interning for?

I would say the main thing would be always putting in 110% and being genuinely happy to do any task, including the less exciting (but necessary) jobs like coffee runs.

What are the main tasks that you assist Karla Clarke with?

I help Karla prep her shoots by following a brief and calling in clothes and accessories from the PR companies, assisting with the styling on set, and doing the returns after the shoots. 

How did you meet and start working with Nicole Warne of Gary Pepper Girl?

I met Nicole on set of a shoot for TOMBOY Beauty at the end of 2015, which also happened to be the first major editorial I styled myself. We got along really well and she asked if I wanted to assist her when she needed some extra help.

What are the main tasks you undertake as Nicole Warne’s Fashion Assistant?

The biggest job I do for Nicole is assist her during Milan and Paris Fashion week. We are usually gone for 2-3 weeks at a time, and in between the shows Nicole always has a lot of meetings, appointments and photo shoots to do so my main job is to assist her in any way possible to ensure everything runs smoothly and to schedule, whether that be calling in outfits she has requested from designers, answering e-mails or booking cars.

Where has your career taken you in terms of travel?

I’ve travelled around different locations in Australia quite a lot for work, as well as London, Milan, Florence, Tuscany and Paris.

What is one of the best experiences you have had throughout your career so far?

I feel so extremely lucky to have already experienced so many amazing things and to have met so many amazing people in the last year and a half, it is hard to pinpoint just one. I guess I would have to say the most recent Paris Fashion Week was one of my favourite trips, as I was able to attend most of the shows with Nicole and network with some really incredible people. I also absolutely adore Paris, and every experience there feels one hundred times more special because it’s my favourite city in the world, so I feel very lucky to be able to work there. Either that, or meeting Grace Coddington.. But that was also in Paris, so I would definitely have to say Paris. 

What does a normal working day for Nichhia Wippell look like?

A normal day would be shooting either in a studio or on location – this past week has been with Sunday Life as Penny McCarthy’s fashion assistant. I usually aim to get to the shoot 10 minutes before the call time to unload everything and start to unpack / steam it. Then, while hair and make up is being done, we go through the clothes and put them into looks and the order we want to shoot. Once I have dressed the model and we have started shooting, my job is basically just to assist Penny to make sure the outfit is shooting well and that everything is running smoothly. It is also really important that I write down what brand each garment is from. At the end of the day, I pack everything up into garment bags, take it back to the office and organise it to be returned to the PR agencies the next morning. After the shoot, I use the notes I made about where each look is from to e-mail the PR’s and find out the price and stockist information for each shot, so that I can put this into the correct format and the magazine can include the captions. 

What advice would you give to aspiring Fashionistas?

Success requires sacrifice – if you want to be successful in such a cut throat industry, you need to be willing to put your job before everything else so that you can stand out from everyone else who is trying to form the same career as you. Accept every task with grace and put your best effort into everything, no matter how boring or irrelevant you think that task might be. 

You’ve already achieved so much at the age of 20, where do you see yourself going from here?

I want to keep working as a fashion assistant for now as I am constantly learning so much and experiencing such great things with Karla, Nicole and Penny. I have started styling a lot of my own things too, but I want to start doing more to continue building my portfolio. However, my main goal within the next year and a half is to move to Paris or New York and focus on my career from an international scale. 

Interviewed by Kaiya Johnson | FBI Fashion College