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Truman Says

How to Succeed in Fashion Without Really Trying: The Assistant Edition

Today on Daily Front Row, the assistant to Editor-in-Chief of Marie ClaireJoanna Coles spoke it. No, it's not some waifish girl with slender legs and flawless skin. It's a boy. A real, live, boy working amongst the Louboutins and Lanvin. His name is Sergio Kletnoy and his task is to aid in Ms. Coles' every wish. As we started this interview, we got a napkin out, because we thought we were in for some juicy gossip, but alas -- nothing here. In fact, this assistant's relationship is suspiciously buddy-buddy. Either he's feeding us some lines or Ms. Cole is a compassionate and empathetic boss lady -- something we hadn't heard of in the realms of fashion. But if all this is true, their relationship is kind of adorable, no? We love when two crazy mismatched kooks get together and make beautiful music together!

Here are a few of Kletnoy's gushes about working just under the top dog at one of America's biggest magazines:

On people's reactions upon hearing his job:
They immediately assume it's just like The Devil Wears Prada. Every single day I get asked about it. Sometimes I lie, just to see people's reactions. I'll embellish to mess with their heads, and tell them that I have to do things 10 times worse than what happened in the movie. They always buy it because the fashion industry is such a crazy world.

On his first day on the job:
I was trained by Joanna's former assistant, who worked in the beauty department at Marie Claire. She was basically telling me all the things Joanna doesn't like: Don't play loud music, you need to always be at your desk, she likes things this way or that way, don't do it your way. We're two very different people. The first day, I put on loud music at my desk and the old assistant kept telling me to turn it down. I did, and then an hour later the old assistant stepped away for a moment and I turned the volume up. Joanna came out of her office and was like, "Oh my God, this is exactly what we needed in this office! A little liveliness!" So it's not exactly as the old assistant described. I've made my own life here.

On his low-key work look:
The first two months I worked here, I looked like a dork in a sweater. I didn't want to look like I came out of a rock 'n' roll video. My tattoos were completely covered with long sleeves, and I didn't wear any baseball caps. Then Joanna saw me coming from the gym in my normal gear. She was like, "What are you doing? What is this getup?" I told her that's how I look outside of work. Joanna said I should look this way every single day. I think she enjoys that I don't look like every other assistant.

On his average day (warning! This is not true for all offices, so don't get any ideas in your heads, future Voguettes):
I get in around 9 or 9:30, and Joanna gets in right after me. One of the first things I do is go through a ton of blogs and sites. Whatever's in the news, I want to be the first to know. When I give Joanna her latte, I'll update her on the pop culture of the day. Whether Joanna knows it or not, she'll say she does. I'll see her Googling it 20 minutes later. It's pretty funny! Then we go over her schedule and discuss what meetings she has and what she wants to cancel, along with phone calls to return and who she needs to see in the office or the building. It's everything from helping her find an outfit in the fashion closet for an event to getting all the executives in for the meeting. Expenses, traveling--you can throw anything at me, and I'll get it done. My day is done around 7 or 7:30.

On being one of the few dudes in a chick office:
I don't take anything personally. You could be the most politically incorrect person in the world and I will never let it bother me. It's the greatest experience being one of the only guys--there are like four on the edit side--because I can get away with murder. It's also so much easier working with women. I love it. In my four years here I've never seen any backstabbing or egos. By comparision, guys don't know how to speak their minds.

picture courtesy of Daily Front Row

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