Earlier this week, Ivan Shaw, former photography director at Vogue and currently the corporate photography director at Condé Nast, hosted a virtual Zoom discussion with the legendary Iman and Elite World Group’s CEO Julia Haart to talk about their respective remarkable journeys to success, offer some wisdom, and benefit the Fashion Scholarship Fund.
Iman and Haart’s fascinating one-hour conversation covered a bevy of topics, including working in a COVID world, inclusivity, talent, building their brands, and the importance of mentoring and giving opportunity for creatives to shine.
Here are some highlights:
Haart on the importance of the Fashion Scholarship Fund: “This year, the need for scholarships is even greater than before because of the pandemic, because all of the industries are in such a severe crisis. Elite World Group was originally planning on funding three scholarships, but since I am so obsessed with what Peter [Arnold, executive director, Fashion Scholarship Fund] is doing, we are now funding six FSF scholarships and hopefully that’s just the start of many more to come…we want to give the up and comer—the student—the opportunity to show their creativity. That is how fashion has always operated and it’s our responsibility to ensure that that perpetuates.”
Iman on the impact of 2020: “Inclusivity really means not just putting a Black model, or LGBT or Indigenous people, on a cover. It’s not just a trend. It’s a movement. And the movement has gone out the door. There is no way of returning. What 2020 has brought to focus is what has been wrong with how ordinary life was—and we are never going back that way.”
Haart on how talent can run their own brand: “Models and talent, actors and actresses—traditionally what people got to see is what they looked like. They didn’t have the opportunity to have a voice, to say who they are, what they believe in, what they are passionate about, what makes them special and unique and extraordinary. And their careers were very short…there was a timeline, and there was no way to extend it. Who was able to extend it? People like Iman who were able to utilize that time when they were in the public’s eyes to transform themselves into brands and businesses. With the advent of social media, because the talent has the audience, they become the networks. When the audience is looking to them to guide them as to what to buy, what to wear, where to travel, for what’s cool, what’s in, what’s new, that gives the power into their hands. Their ability to run their careers now lies squarely with them. My job is to help them transform themselves into brands, to bring longevity in their careers, to become financially independent.”
Iman on how the only way change happens: “Nothing in fashion and beauty really changes until you bang it into them and say, ‘You’ve go to change.’”
Iman’s advice: “Be inclusive in more ways than one: hire a Black model, see a new stylist, see new makeup artists, new hairdressers, get new editors in. That is the real change that needs to happen. Nobody is looking for a handout. They only want to be given a chance.”
[Ed note: The fund has been around since 1937 and awards over $1.2 million every year to help students succeed in all sectors of the fashion industry: design, merchandising, marketing and supply chain, and more. The FSF connects students with internship, career opportunities, mentorship, network, and access to top industry insiders. Click HERE to learn more.]
Wine was provided by Sarah Jessica Parker’s wine Invivo X.