May 9th, 2018, 10:47 AM

Charla Carter Talks Fashion at AUP

By Eugenie Stall
Image Credit: Instagram / @charlactr
A discussion on the past and future of fashion with successful AUP alumni, journalist Charla Carter.

“There is life after AUP!” exclaimed AUP alumni, Charla Carter, who once dominated the editorial world, working at Gala Magazine and even Vogue. As Charla spoke to our eager fashion journalism class, she told us about her introduction into fashion writing at AUP, which was called ACP – American College in Paris – at the time. She was the co Editor-in-Chief at Planet, now called Peacock, and had decided to write her first fashion article. A big fan of the famous milliner Jean Marte, she decided to cold call him and pitch her story. He obliged, and from that moment on, Charla knew that she had found her passion in fashion writing. The next thing she knew, she had graduated from AUP and was living in New York City with a portfolio of fashion articles.

By this time, Charla was feeling more confident in her writing and resume, and she decided to cold call American Vogue – an act that is nearly impossible in this day in age. Nonetheless, Charla had a stroke of luck and was soon writing the news articles at American Vogue on Palais Bourbon. Charla worked under the iconic Diana Vreeland’s as her assistant, and was the liaison for American editors who traveled to cover stories and shoots in Paris. She exclaimed, “My very first job was as Diana Vreeland’s assistant for two weeks. And you know what, I couldn’t speak French, but my accent was so good so I faked it. That’s what you have to do. Fake it until you make it, you have to sell yourself."

Charla explained how coveted hard magazines were at the time, calling them “objects of desire.” She and her friends would anxiously wait until their magazines came in so that they could see the latest styles. They would save up to buy Alaïa skirts featured on the spreads – at the time, he was a new designer, and they were actually able to afford them.

Charla Carter talking with Madeleine Czigler at the American University of Paris. Image Credit: Eugenie Stall

Now, magazines are archaic and way too accessible. You can download a magazine on your smartphone. The excitement is completely gone. Nothing is new, and also nothing is affordable. Charla explains that everything is now about big business, and designers Chanel and Alaïa are hardly attainable. The money that used to go to the designer and their crew has to go to the designer, the crew, the CEO, the advertising, the digital advertising.

She said, because of this, people are not ‘dressing up anymore’. Designer fashion is not being indulged in as much, because it now seems so ridiculous to spend such large sums of money on quality articles of clothing. Instead, people are now investing in vacations and holistic experiences and self-care. Charla declares, “The future of fashion seems to be fading away which brings up the future of fashion journalism.”

Charla segues into her current plight in the world of fashion journalism, talking about how she was recently approached to launch a style supplement for Forbes Magazine. However, Charla soon found out that none of the 400 contributors on the website were being paid, and she realized that her offer too was assumed to be pro bono. She said,“That’s starting to be the problem with online, people work for exposure and don’t get compensated for their talent.”

Carter has always worked in freelance, and advocates our generation to go in that direction too.

“A point of view is essential. Anyone can be a blogger and write about the blah blah. You are in Paris. Use it. Read. Go to museums and look at art. Enrich yourself in all that Paris has to offer because you are truly given an amazing opportunity being here.” She concluded with, “don’t get left behind, but don’t lose your integrity.”