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Intern Report : Archives Assistant at Maison Margiela

Ayaka shares with us her experience as an Archives Assistant at Maison Margiela. Through this intern report, we can discover more about curation and heritage of a fashion house.

Could you introduce yourself briefly?

I am Ayaka from Japan. I studied economics in my Bachelor in Japan then I realized I wanted to work in fashion but more on curation and heritage, so I looked into some schools and I found Parsons Paris. It is my second year right now, I am finishing next month and I am currently writing my thesis about the display of archives in museums and about how and why the fashion conservators are more in demand. Last year, I had the opportunity to do an internship at Maison Margiela from September until March as an Archives Assistant and since last week, I have been working at Balenciaga for the same position, Archives and Press Assistant.

What attracted you towards the world of luxury?

I was always interested by Haute Couture. I used to live in Paris when I was eight-year-old until twelve so I kind of have this memory of fashion, Haute Couture, and luxury brands in Paris. Of course in Japan we have a lot of interesting brands and different styles but in my mind, I was always looking at the more luxurious brands based in Paris.

What were your main daily tasks during your internship?

As an Archives Assistant at Maison Margiela, I would help my manager in doing the inventory for the old collections and putting them into the digital database. There is also something called "conditionnement" where you put the clothes neatly in a box for a nice conservation status. In the archives department we also have visitors from the studio, the designers would come in the space to get some influence and inspiration for the collections. Designers from the "Artisanal" collections for Haute Couture, "Co-Ed" for Ready-To-Wear and MM6. The last part is regarding the loans. We have internal and external loans. Anything that the studio or the artistic director needs, I have to send it as soon as possible. For external loans, sometimes we need to send some archives to the press or museums for display and exhibitions.

What did you prefer? What did you dislike?

What I liked about my internship is that I had a voice and an impact. Because the Maison Margiela archives department is still in its initial stage, I felt like I could make some suggestions. On the other hand, things could get stressful sometimes to see the gap between what wants the archives department and what the brand wants us to do. The concept of the archives is a recent notion for the fashion industry.

Could you tell us a little bit about the recruitment process?

Maison Margiela only posted the internship offer on LinkedIn and "Profil de Couture", which is a platform for museums to put their job offers. Not many people knew about it and my professor forwarded it to us so that is how I learnt about it. Now Maison Margiela put the offer on more platforms. Then, I had one interview with the archives manager and the HR team.

Do you have any advice for the future interns?

I know it is very difficult to find an internship these days, especially in this department or fashion. Sometimes, people who are not into archives would also apply for the job but from the perspective of the managers, they can tell that you are not passionate about it. Just apply if you are really passionate about art and heritage. It doesn't matter if you don't have the skills, as long as you are interested in the past collections and you want to cherish those clothes as heritage and display them.

What are you currently doing?

Right now, I am working at Balenciaga as an Archives and Press Assistant. It is not an internship but "interim". Balenciaga wanted help for the VIP loans. When we receive some loans demands, I am in charge of sending them. I am also doing the archives job, so the inventorying, "conditionnement", labelling and all. Balenciaga has one of the best and most completed archive space, really similar to a museum. It is amazing to see it and be part of it. In the future, I would like to work more in both archives and communications. I would like to communicate about heritage and let people know the importance and beauty of it.

Written by Marine Prevot

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