By Heather Fiore
Fashion Week is an event that is typically read about and seen in magazines. Most people don’t get the opportunity to sit inside one of those white tents, hobnobbing with celebrities and other famous designers, but Rider University student Meghan Mende received that once-in-a-lifetime chance to do just that.
Mende, a junior psychology major, attended New York Fashion Week from Feb. 10 until Feb. 17 as the winner of FIJI Water’s New York Fashion Week Intern Contest.
“The experience was amazing and beyond my expectations,” she said. “It was so cool to see how much work actually goes into the fashion shows.”
During her time at Fashion Week, Mende worked in the tents for designers Christian Siriano, DKNY, Donna Karan and Betsey Johnson.
“I saw so many shows throughout the week but my favorite was definitely Betsey Johnson,” she said.
Along with attending Fashion Week, Mende received a year of free FIJI water and another lavish reward.
“They hired a stylist for us [interns] and we received more than $2,000 worth of clothes, shoes and accessories,” she said. “And the best part was that we got to keep all of it.”
Mende originally found the contest advertised on craigslist.org last year, but missed the deadline for submission. This year, she made sure to submit her application by the contest’s deadline, ensuring a chance to win.
First, contestants had to post a 150 to 300 word submission in the “comments” section of FIJI Water’s blog on their website, explaining why his or her love of fashion and commitment to hard work made him or her the right person for the New York Fashion Week internship.
Mende was then chosen as one of eight finalists. The next step entailed making a video explaining her vision as a fashion designer.
The FIJI Water Events Team required the finalists to respond to this scenario in their videos: “Imagine you are an emerging fashion designer preparing your first collection for New York Fashion Week. What is the name you have chosen for your collection, and why? Where did you get the inspiration for your collection? Pick a key item from your closet or elsewhere that would best represent what we will see in your collection.”
Although Mende is a psychology major, she holds an event planning minor, displaying her diverse interests.
“Psychology is a great major in my eyes because you learn so much about how people work and why people do the things they do. It ties in a lot with public relations, marketing and even event planning,” she said. “Within all of my internships, I’ve gained so much experience in all of these fields, so I am very varied in my expertise.”
Mende’s video stood out from the rest because of the different skills she displayed. She used a combination of graphics and music along with video of herself.
“I named my collection Firework because my favorite song lately is ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry. I love the meaning behind it because it’s explosive and who you are,” she said. “I said that the song inspired me. Then, I had a piece in my closet that was really sparkly and silver, so I used that.”
Mende’s video was posted on FIJI Water’s website alongside the other eight finalists’ and whichever video obtained the most votes won. She used social networks to aid her, gathering the majority of her votes from Facebook and Twitter.
Dr. Aaron Moore, Mende’s public relations professor, observed her drive to succeed in this particular field.
“From her work in public relations, Meghan has a solid understanding of the ins and the outs of the public relations industry,” Moore said. “She is a good writer that comprehends that the lavish depictions of people working in public relations from television and the movies is not what the business is really like.”
Mende won the contest by gaining about 25 percent of the votes (3,248 votes to be exact) and she surpassed each of the finalists. Her closest competitor only received about 19 percent of the votes, trailing behind Mende by almost 1,000 votes.
“It definitely added a great boost to my résumé and was an unforgettable experience,” Mende said. “It’s a memory I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”