Interview with fashion journalist: Derek Blasberg

| Scene Fashion Columnist

Derek Blasberg’s new book, “Classy,” offers fashion advice drawn from Blasberg’s experiences in the fashion world.

St. Louis native Derek Blasberg has come a long way since his modest Midwestern childhood. I had the pleasure of attending his intimate book signing at Left Bank Books this past weekend, where his family and friends were all in attendance (including Chloë Sevigny and Byrdie Bell—yes, they are just as beautiful in person). Blasberg’s new book, “Classy,” is a hilarious handbook full of, as he puts it, “exceptional advice for the extremely modern lady.”

A New York University honors graduate, Blasberg is currently a senior fashion news editor at V magazine and an editor-at-large of Style.com. He has also made his mark in the industry as a leading freelance journalist for major publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Interview. His success in this fast-paced, high-pressure industry can be measured by one thing: diligence.

Forget pride, forget titles. Derek focused on building a strong foundation and taking any and all opportunities to immerse himself in what he loves. With experience, he has seized bigger and better opportunities and is now on the New York Times bestseller list for “Classy.”

Monica Mendal: What inspired you to write “Classy”?

Derek Blasberg:
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen asked me to edit the book they wrote two years ago, which was called “Influence.” I was friendly with them both, and it was a fun project to work on. Throughout that process, I was impressed with how intelligent, endearing and hardworking these women were, and was curious why more girls like them weren’t put on a pedestal for their works like this.

MM: What projects are you working on now?

DB: Trying to sell books!

MM: How are you selling them?

DB: Book tour, baby! I’m doing lots of signings, and some of my friends have been generous enough to host my parties: Chloë Sevigny hosted my New York event, Nate Berkus in Chicago, Barbara Bush in Dallas, Maggie Rizer in San Francisco and on May 6, Kate Bosworth and Nicole Richie are doing a book party for me.

MM: How did you break through in the fashion industry?

DB: Hard work and determination. I started with internships and assistant jobs at the bottom of the totem pole.

MM: Where at the bottom did you start? What did you learn from these experiences?

DB: I was an intern at Vogue, and then, when I graduated, I accepted a job as an assistant. I got coffee, did paperwork and all the grunt work. But being an assistant really was the best training for future work.

MM: What do you love most about your job?

DB: The travel! And the people I work with. There are so many smart, funny people that work in the creative arts.

MM: Who that you’ve worked with has had the most profound impact on your career?

DB: Oh, I don’t know. That’s such a big question. Alexander McQueen has been on my mind a lot lately, because of his untimely passing. He was an icon.

MM:
 I’ve noticed you have a strong presence on Twitter. Why did you decide to get on Twitter, and how do you see this form of new media developing in the fashion world?

DB: Twitter works well for me because so much of my work can be accessed online. Also, it’s a great creative outlet to share (with what few followers I have) my work and thoughts.

MM: What would you say was your biggest career mistake? Something you did that might not have been, in the spirit of your book, the “classiest” decision?

DB: That’s a tough question. Unfortunately, I think I still haven’t made my biggest mistake! Something to look forward to, I guess.

MM: What would be your advice for the average college student?

DB: Pay attention! I moved to New York right after high school for college, and was often distracted by the bright lights and the big city. Sometimes I wish I had paid attention more, and recalled more information!

MM: Career advice for the aspiring fashionista?

DB: This was one of the first questions I answered for Teen Vogue. I say work hard, take internships seriously and pay attention to your studies.