So far we’ve had contributions ranging from comedians and writers to charities and cyclists but today we break new ground….fashion. It’s all thanks to the support of New York Fashion Director, Emma Pritchard.
Emma is from Pontypool and splits her time between Torfaen and New York. As you do.
Having worked with everyone from Eva Longoria to the creators of SouthPark, it’s clear that this Valleys girl knows a little bit more about style and glamour than a flyering team for a small Cardiff club. After plying her trade in Singapore, Emma currently works as Fashion Director for Page Six Fashion, as well as running shoots for major magazine titles, advertising campaigns and lots more.
We met up with the seriously down to earth Emma last week (in Pontypool) to talk about why the Valleys are still special to her and what it takes to make it in the fashion business in non-constructed reality….. or.. er… real life.
Who or what made you decide to work in the fashion industry?
I came into the fashion industry by default really. Although my degree was in fashion I strangely didn’t choose fashion or styling as a career path, I always considered fashion more of a hobby. I began my career as a Graphic Designer then Art Director in Asia. My friends and clients always encouraged me to branch out into styling however it wasn’t until I met Judy Tynan of Stone Camera Management in Singapore, that my fate changed. She offered me all her styling work and I quit my job as an Art Director shortly after. Coming from an advertising background I always had a passion for conceptual images and styling gave me the opportunity to produce such images on a much shorter time scale than I had previously experienced as an Art Director. It’s those creative ideas, the opportunities, variety and problem solving they present that keeps me inspired.
You have worked with lots of big names from Elizabeth Arden to Mercedes, which project are you most proud of and why?
Definitely the jobs that have enabled me to live out fantasies I would have never otherwise considered. Like trashing a hotel suite at The Waldorf Astoria in New York with Trey Parker and Matt Stone (SouthPark boys) or Macy’s opening early for us last Christmas. We had the whole store to ourselves for 3 hours or being double booked for Olivia Palermo and Eva Longoria on the same day! We have so little time to produce these jobs – sometimes only hours and then you will only get a few hours with the celebrity so it’s a high pressure situation where you have no room for error. When it’s finally over and you can breathe, you get a massive sense of accomplishment then it’s off to the next!!
What was your reaction to MTV’s claims to deliver fame and glamour through ‘The Valleys’?
Sadness really. Playing on young people’s dreams is so unfair but then I suppose that’s what they’re looking to trade on for entertainment. It will be interesting to see what is achieved through their claims. The so called mentors are correct in promoting hard work but this version is just fake which is such a shame. So far, I do not believe they’re offering anything constructive or “life changing”. How the chances look after the cameras have gone away remains to be seen.
There are myths aplenty about the Valleys which we’ve seen lots of this, year. Which are the biggest myths about life in the fashion industry?
That’s it’s glamourous! The photos we produce are but it takes a hell of a lot of hard work, long hours and dedication to produce those pictures.
What would be your tips for young people living in the Valleys who want to work in fashion?
First of all THAT YOU CAN DO IT! It doesn’t matter where you’re from. I hope that I can be a testament to that. I didn’t grow up with a fashion background just a supportive family and an amazing Mum that constantly (and still does!) encouraged me and told me anything is possible but you do have to try, no one will come and find you. Start by learning about the industry, the jobs that are available in fashion and the jobs that best suit your skills. Try to find a mentor, someone in a position you would like and find out how they got there, even write to them. Everyone’s journey is different. Muccia Prada started out in Political Science! Most of all you have to really want it otherwise you won’t be willing to put in the hard work but if you love what you do it won’t feel like hard work.
Our friends at MTV tell us that the bright lights of Cardiff are paved with gold whilst Valleys kids reside in tranquil ‘hamlet towns’ far, far away. How do you describe the place to friends and colleagues in New York?
If you mention Wales to Americans it conjures up imagery of beautiful green mountains with lots of castles. It is an idyllic country, that’s a given, but I always describe Wales through the people. I don’t know many other places where there’s still such a strong sense of community and people are so warm. Everyone’s still really close to their families and genuinely love spending time with them. There’s a saying that valley people are the best and having travelled extensively for 15 years I have to agree!