Sonia and I both grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, both lived in New York and both have an obsession with wearing flowers in our hair…even in the dead of winter. Clearly we were destined to be good friends. Whenever I want to talk about a DIY project, an Olsen twin or a red carpet event, I talk to Sonia.
Sonia attended the University of Windsor but shortly after graduating darted off to New York to attend Parson’s school of Design where she studied Marketing. She fell in love with New York (duh!) and ended up getting a full time gig with stylist Mel Ottenburg after working her butt off at various internships.
She has been back in Toronto for a few years now and is currently working for Diesel Canada where she handles the visual merchandising. Just returning from a work trip in Italy (can you say jealous?), I flagged her down for some questions.
What was your first internship after you graduated from Parsons?
My first internship was at Antonio Azzuolo in New York City! I helped with his menswear presentation during fashion week. As an intern, I still got to be involved in everything from casting, to dressing models (perk!), keeping everyone organized and making sure the models were dressed and went out on time. Antonio is an amazingly talented designer- he was just a fashion fund finalist at the CFDA awards.
Describe your role at Diesel.
I am a visual merchandiser for all our corner business, so I travel to all our locations around Ontario (and sometimes out west) to merchandise the shops, put out the new clothes, make sure the shop is up to visual standards, always following the HQ guidelines. I also merchandise our showroom for each selling season, train specialists in our corner shops and take part in the buying team for some of our corner shops. I am really lucky because I get to be involved in a lot and I am constantly learning.
Tequila, club soda and a splash of Grapefruit.
After visiting the incredible Dover Street market last month in London, England, I started reading the kawakubo book. I have also been obsessed with any books about Hedi Slimane which are mostly picture books with his photographs (all of his Anthology of a Decade books)
You used to work for stylist Mel Ottenberg. What was the craziest project you ever worked on with him
Mel is an amazingly talented stylist ( he is actually Rihanna’s current stylist, working with the impressive designer Adam Selman to create her looks). I have to say the craziest project we did, although I could name a few, would be working on Kanye West’s Power video. We worked with artist Marco Brambillo who filmed the video (he has also created the video inside the standard hotel’s New York elevator) and of course Kanye West. Preparing for the project for weeks before and then watching it all come together on the day of the shoot was really cool, obviously a lot of work but if you watch the video it’s pretty crazy, there is a lot going on and each different person within it was filmed separately then the entire thing was put together. Seeing the final video was pretty surreal after everything. ‘
Vice you will never give up?
Does shopping count?
What is the average day in the life of Sonia?
An average day for me consists of visiting a shop, which includes going to the location, looking over the shop, making it is up to standards, going through the sales goals with the specialist and finding out what has been selling, merchandising all the new collection in the proper colour stories for the season, changing any mannequins and once everything looks perfect, taking pictures to send to the rest of the Diesel team. And after all that is done I like meeting up with my friends, preferably on a patio! I love trying new places and always check out Notable.ca for new drink and restaurants recommendations.
Best piece of advice you were ever given about working in the fashion industry?
INTERNSHIPS! Do lots of them
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I see myself continuing on my path in the fashion industry towards success. Continuing to grow and learn and develop new skills as well as mastering my current ones. The best thing about this industry is that there is no much to learn and so many different roles…you can NEVER get bored.
Ibiza to dance from day to night and then the Greek Islands to relax
Favourite store in Toronto to shop? Window browse?
The Diesel store and The Room in The Hudson’s Bay Queen St- nothing better than seeing the clothes you saw come down the runway in real life.
Favourite fashion website?
Style.com, opening ceremony blog, Vfiles, The Coveteur and any and all street style blogs