With a background in fashion styling, Milena Zhuravleva began her career as an assistant fashion editor of Instyle magazine Czech Republic. Today she continues her work at Instyle along with freelance projects. As an expert on the fashion and the editorial world, Style Me Prague sat over coffee with Milena to get an insight into the Czech editorial industry, her typical day at work and her first ever styling job.
You started working at Instyle when you were 21, and today you are one of the youngest and most successful people on Prague’s editorial scene. Did you know from the very beginning that you want to work in the fashion magazine?
Yes, I did, but I also wanted to do a million other things. (Laughs.) I was always interested in fashion, but I did not know what exactly I would like to do. In Instyle, I got by accident when I completed a styling course at the Backstage school, Alena Shafratova (the founder of the school) noticed me and suggested my candidacy to Rachel Kanarowski, who at that time was the editor-in-chief of the Instyle Czech Republic. At first, I was assigned to do a few pages, then there were more and that’s how it started.
Describe your typical day at Instyle?
Every day is different. I don’t really have a clear schedule that I follow. If it’s a day of the photoshoot, I usually up early around 6am and head to the location. If not, then I come to the office. Each shooting has its own process, level of preparation and duration. After shooting, we must agree on prices, then pack and return clothes to showrooms. Very rarely, when one day looks like another.
Tell me how do you decide on the theme and style of the photoshoot?
We work closely with Katerina Otevrelova, who is an editor-in-chief of Instyle Czech Republic and Martin Vasha who works as fashion editor. Together we come up with a theme, designer or model of the issue. Martin is responsible for written content, whereas I’m in charge of the visuals content. My job also includes finding the photographers and location for a photoshoot.
What was the one photoshoot that you remember the most?
Oh, there were a lot of them. The most memorable is probably my first spread for a magazine, I got to style myself. It was a beauty-feature with a famous Czech actress and I was assigned to select five tops for her. Back then, it took me several days to prepare, now, I think I would manage in an hour. (Smiling.)
Tell me, how do you source clothes and accessories for a photoshoot?
It depends on the size of the photoshoot and a celebrity that we are working with. We often work with Czech celebrities, fortunately, there are not so many of them so we’ve either worked with them before and they know our team, or if it’s a new face we would agree the outfits in advance. I always have three or four spare outfits with me on the day of the shooting. As for fashion brands, Instyle policy is such that we try to combine luxury brands with more democratic so that each readers can find something for themselves.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
To get the big boss like the feature. (Laughs.) Working with people can sometimes be stressful, we need to maintain good relations with the designers, boutiques and PR people, but we have an excellent team, we all help and support each other.
And what brings you the most joy?
Everything! I love traveling and meeting new people. As the magazine grows, the more opportunities open for us. We get invited to trunk shows, fashion exhibitions, we fly to Paris and Milan to attend fashion weeks – it’s all very inspiring!
Valuable advice, that you’ve learned working in the fashion industry?
To be kind. No matter what industry you work in, the nicer you treat people, the better you work will be.
Milena, how would you describe your personal style?
I can say that my style has changed a lot in the past years. I’m more relaxed now, before I loved to dress up, now I prefer simple good quality clothes. It’s unlikely that I will buy a neon-bright, patterned top today, instead I prefer a plain t-shirt made of natural materials. I’m more practical now – jeans, shirts, jackets and always a good quality handbag and shoes.
Coffee or tea?
Red lipstick or nude lip-gloss?
Dress or Pants?
Heels or flats?
Stripes or check?
New or vintage?
Paris or New York?
Photo courtesy: Milena Zhuravleva archives